Science

Take Part in the Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly Count is the largest natural history citizen science project involving insects in the world. Wildlife charity,  Butterfly Conservation, is hoping that this year even more people will take part.

In 2021 the Big Butterfly Count saw the lowest ever number of butterflies recorded. As butterflies and moths are an important indicator of the health of our environment, a reduction in their numbers is a cause for serious concern.

With the numbers of butterflies in decline, learning as much as possible about them is more important than ever.

Dr Zoe Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation, explained:

“We really need people’s help this year to help us figure out where our butterflies are and what we need to do to save them. It’s not just the rare species of butterfly – the ones with restricted habitat or foodplants – that we are concerned about. Some of our previously commonly seen butterflies, like the Small Tortoiseshell, are also declining rapidly.”

Small Tortoiseshell (on Lavender) Image: Matt Berry, Butterfly Conservation

The Small Tortoiseshell, which can be found all over the UK and was once a familiar species in gardens throughout the country, has declined by 79% since 1976. It’s one of the species included in the Big Butterfly Count, and Butterfly Conservation hope that data from citizen scientists will mean more can be understood about its fate.

Anyone can take part. To do this you just need to spend 15 minutes in an outdoor space counting the amount and type of butterflies, and some day-flying moths, you see.

Over 150,000 counts were submitted to the Big Butterfly Count last year, more than ever before. 2021 also saw the lowest average number of butterflies logged since the event began thirteen years ago. 

This year’s Big Butterfly Count runs from the 15th July to the 7th August. For more information and to take part simply visit www.bigbutterflycount.org or download the free Big Butterfly Count app.

The 2022 Big Butterfly Count is sponsored by garden wildlife specialist Vivara and the DFN Foundation, a commissioning charity focused on influencing sustainable change in special needs education, supported employment, healthcare and conservation.

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