THERE is concern that unseasonal warm weather is causing confusion for the UK’s wildlife, with sightings of behaviour more commonly associated with spring being recorded amongst numerous species.

The Woodland Trust has warned that with temperatures in some parts of the UK set to reach as high as 23 degrees next week the natural cycles of certain species may be thrown out of sync.

Nature’s Calendar, a citizen science project which records seasonal changes to track the effects of climate change, has had reports of spring-like behaviour from trees and insects over the last few weeks.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, citizen science manager for Nature’s Calendar, said: “We have had reports of second flowering for horse chestnut trees, new leaves on species like ash, and plenty of active amphibians and butterflies.

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“We would normally expect butterflies and newts to be going into hibernation around now, so it’s really interesting to see how the weather seems to be changing these patterns and how wildlife appears to be making the most of the mild autumn weather.”

The warmer weather later into the year can extend the growing periods for plants and give more foraging time for animals, which may give populations the chance to recover from the summer’s heatwaves and droughts.

However, if the extreme weather witnessed this summer becomes a more regular occurrence, it may disrupt the natural cycles of species such as butterflies.

Butterflies rely on a period of dormancy during winter to save energy while food is scarce, and many plants require a spell of cold weather in winter to drive germination in spring.

Trees also rely on cold spells to help kill off and stall the spread of pests and diseases.

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Alisha Anstee, lead policy advocate for tree health and invasive species at Woodland Trust, said: “Climate change is likely to lead to a multitude of challenges for our trees and woodlands.

“As our climate changes over time our trees are likely to be more stressed which means they will be more susceptible to the impacts of pests and diseases.

“Warmer temperatures will likely lead to more pests and diseases being able to thrive in the UK. These species may previously have been unable to survive in the cooler UK but an increase of up to 2 degrees could reverse this.”

Dr Lewthwaite added: “A changing climate means changing seasons. We already know that spring is arriving an average of 8.4 days earlier each year, but not so much is known about autumn.

"In order to understand the impact these rising temperatures may have on the timing of natural events, we need people to record what they are seeing in their local woods, gardens and parks on Nature’s Calendar, as soon as they can.”

The Woodland Trust is calling on people to record signs of changing seasons on Nature’s Calendar's website.