The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and an impressive 10,000 people took part, counting 210,000 butterflies and day-flying moths across the nation. Many more people, some 34,000 in fact, joined Big Butterfly Count 2011 (see the 2011 results). This year’s Big Butterfly Count is taking place from Saturday 14th July – Sunday 5th August 2012.
The survey is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation. To take part, simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather between 14th July and 5th August. We have chosen this time of year because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their life cycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens, to fields and forests. Then submit your records online at the Big Butterfly Count website.
Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. That’s why counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature. The count will also assist in identifying trends in species that will help to plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.
The results of this year’s Big Butterfly Count will help assess the impact of the wet weather on our butterflies. Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation explained: “The wet weather this spring and early summer has made life really hard for our butterflies and things could get worse unless conditions improve. Our butterflies were already struggling – almost three quarters of UK species have decreased in numbers during the last ten years. These falls are worrying because butterflies are important indicator species for our environment – their declines suggest a wider insect biodiversity crisis. You can play a vital role in the battle to secure their future. By taking part in the Big Butterfly Count you will be providing important information that could help turn their fortunes around.”
For more information on how to take part, see the Big Butterfly Count website.
Header photo: Small Tortoiseshell (John Archer)