The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping Butterfly Conservation assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies. Over 60,000 people took part in 2017, submitting 62,500 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK.
Why count butterflies?
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 Butterfly Conservation in identifying trends in species that will help them plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.
How to take part
Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather during the big butterfly count. This time of year has been chosen because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens, to fields and forests.
If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once . If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.
Download an identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen.
You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, and for different places that you visit. Remember that your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths.
Unfortunately, they cannot accept any counts sent in on paper or by email, text or phone. The website will be open to receive records throughout July and August.
Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Mike Dilger and Nick Baker, Vice Presidents of Butterfly Conservation and the actress Joanna Lumley OBE have given their enthusiastic backing to the project.