The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of our environment, and the largest butterfly survey in the world.. This year it is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
It was launched in 2010 and an impressive 10,000 people took part, counting 210,000 butterflies and day-flying moths across the nation. Over 100,000 people took part in 2018, counting almost a million individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK (see the 2018 results). This year’s Big Butterfly Count is taking place from Friday 19 July to Sunday 11 August 2018.
The survey is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation. To take part, simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather between now and 12 August. This is the time of year that 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. You can download an identification chart to help you identify the butterflies you see. Then submit your records online at the Big Butterfly Count website. There’s even a free smartphone app for iOS or Android to make it easier to submit your sightings.
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.
For more information on how to take part, see the Big Butterfly Count website.
Header photo: Painted Lady by Richard Saville. Look out particularly for Painted Ladies when doing your counts this year, as these highly migratory butterflies seem to be on the move in large numbers across Europe.