The Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count runs from the 20th July 2018, until the 12th August 2018. During this time, Butterfly Conservation – a registered charity who work to protect British butterflies and moths, are asking members of the public to take 15 minutes out of their day, to take note of the butterfly and moth species they see around them.
I love joining the Big Butterfly Count – watching butterflies is such a fun and relaxing activity! If you want to take part, you simply spend 15 minutes, (ideally on a sunny day – as you’re more likely to see butterflies in warm sunny weather), counting butterflies and moths. You can choose to take your Butterfly Count in your garden, at your allotment, or in the gardens of your school, college, or university, in a forest or woodland, at a park, or nature reserve, or even whilst you’re taking a walk!
Don’t worry if you’re not a butterfly expert – you’ll find some very useful butterfly and moth identification charts that will make it super easy to record each butterfly or moth that you see during your count, on Butterfly Conservation’s website. There’s even a Big Butterfly Count app which will help you identify, count and submit your results – you can find it on the Apple and Android app stores.
As you take your Big Butterfly Count, if you’re taking your count on a walk, then each time you see a butterfly you record it – so if you see three Peacock Butterflies, you record these as three. But it’s a little bit different if you’re taking your count in a static location, say in your garden or at your allotment, where you’re stationary in one place, so for this type of count, if you see three Peacock Butterflies at once, you record these as three, but if you see a single Peacock Butterfly three times, you record this as one Peacock Butterfly – this is to make the count more accurate – as you may be seeing the exact same butterfly time and time again!
The Big Butterfly Count is a lovely, relaxing activity that everyone can enjoy. The results from the count will help Butterfly Conservation study, keep track of, and monitor the successes and failures of butterflies throughout the UK.
During my 15 minute Big Butterfly Count, which I took today, next to two plants – a white Buddleja and Verbena bonariensis, two plants that I know to be popular with butterflies, I saw the following butterflies:
- 3 Large White Butterflies, also known by their scientific name of Pieris brassicae
- 1 Small White Butterfly, also known by its scientific name of Pieris rapae.
- 1 Holly Blue Butterfly, also know by its scientific name of Celastrina argiolus.
- 1 Comma Butterfly, also known by its scientific name of Polygonia c-album.
- 1 Red Admiral Butterfly, known by its scientific name of Vanessa atalanta.
This Butterfly Count was dominated by the White Butterflies. The Holly Blue Butterfly I saw flew past, but didn’t stop to feed and the Red Admiral and Comma Butterflies were also in a hurry, both flew past overhead without stopping – I didn’t manage to capture a photograph of either of these butterflies! I have already submitted my findings to Butterfly Conservation, it was very easy, simple and straight forward to do using the Smartphone App, and only took a moment of my time.
It’s wonderful to spend time counting butterflies and immersing yourself in nature. If you’re taking part in your own Big Butterfly Count, please don’t forget to submit your recordings to Butterfly Conservation’s website, Butterfly Conservation will use your butterfly recordings to monitor and understand how the UK’s butterflies are faring in the hot, dry weather they are experiencing this summer. Butterfly Conservation will use this information to evaluate the growth or decline of our butterflies, and find ways to help create a brighter future for butterflies.
Butterfly conservation ask that anyone who wishes to take part, records their sightings and sends the results in to their butterfly and moth experts, who will study the findings to evaluate the growth or decline of our British butterflies and moths.
I love butterflies and moths! If you love butterflies and moths too, there are many ways you can help them, here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Avoid using any pesticides or insecticides; these kill butterflies, caterpillars, and other insects.
- To have butterflies we need caterpillars! Try growing caterpillar food plants in your garden or allotment. Nettles are a great food plant for Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Painted Ladies, and Red Admiral caterpillars.
- Grow nectar rich flowering plants, here are a few ideas to get you started: Buddleja, Verbena bonariensis, lavender, Sedums, Hebes, Hedera Helix (Ivy), Scabious, and Agastache – Agastache ‘Blackadder’ is a great plant for bees and butterflies.
Other articles that may interest you…………….
To see the results of my 2016 Big Butterfly Count by a group of Buddleja plants, please click here.
To see the results of my 2015 Big Butterfly Count, please click here.
To see the results of my 2015 Big Butterfly Count at Pewley Down in Surrey, please click here.