Big Butterfly Count begins this weekend


Butterfly Conservation is urging the whole nation to take part in the Big Butterfly Count, which begins this weekend.

Butterfly Conservation revealed in May that half of Britain's remaining butterfly species are now on the Red List and threatened or near threatened with extinction. Last year's 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.

Small Tortoiseshell, which can be found all over the UK and was once a familiar species in gardens, has declined by 79% since 1976 (David Hewitt).

However, taking part in the Big Butterfly Count is one positive way that everyone can help. The information gathered is vital in helping scientists understand more about what is happening to the nation's butterflies and therefore put in place the conservation measures needed to protect them. In recent years Butterfly Conservation has helped save two species from extinction in the UK and halted the decline of many others. The charity has proved that with the right information and targeted action, species can be brought back from the brink.

Dr Zoe Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation, said: "Thanks to the wonderful British public who take part in their thousands, the Big Butterfly Count is the largest natural history citizen science project involving insects in the world and provides us with a valuable snapshot of what is happening for butterflies across the whole of the UK. It can act as an early-warning system, letting us know how various environmental changes are impacting insects, and allows us to gather vital data from places that would otherwise be totally unrecorded.

"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 Small Tortoiseshell, are also declining rapidly."

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count is a UK-wide survey open to everyone, of any age, living in towns, cities or the countryside. Taking part requires you to spend just 15 minutes in an outdoor space counting the amount and type of butterflies, and some day-flying moths, you see. It is easy to do and the more people who do it, the greater the benefits to our understanding of nature and how to help it. There were more than 150,000 counts submitted to the Big Butterfly Count last year, more than ever before.

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