Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2018!

A Large White Butterfly, which is also known by its scientific name of Pieris brassicae. This white butterfly is pictured nectaring on Verbena bonariensis, on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.

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.

A Large White Butterfly, which is also known by its scientific name of Pieris brassicae. This white butterfly is pictured nectaring on Verbena bonariensis, as seen on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count, for Butterfly Conservation.

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.

This white butterfly is pictured nectaring on Buddleja, on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.
A Large White Butterfly, which is also known by its scientific name of Pieris brassicae. This white butterfly is pictured nectaring on Verbena bonariensis, on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.
A Large White Butterfly, which is also known by its scientific name of Pieris brassicae. This white butterfly is pictured nectaring on Buddleja, on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.
Verbena bonariensis is a fantastic butterfly and bee plant. Verbena bonariensis is a long flowered plant that is drought tolerant and easy to grow. This herbaceous perennial is popular with all butterflies, not just the White Butterfly that is pictured here on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.
The caterpillars of White Butterflies, such as this Large White Butterfly, which is also known by its scientific name of Pieris brassicae, feed on cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and Nasturtiums, which are also known by their botanical name of Tropaeolum majus. This white butterfly is pictured on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.

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!

White Butterflies seem to be having another very successful year, I have seen more White Butterflies than any other butterfly species this year.
These two Large White Butterflies also known by their scientific name of Pieris brassicae, were spotted on the 21st July 2018, during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.
It was rather cloudy and overcast during the start of my Big Butterfly Count, as you can see in this photograph.

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.

Buddleja and Verbena bonariensis are nectar rich plants, which are very popular with many butterfly species.

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.

Butterflies do well in warm, dry summers, so I am hoping that 2018 is a great year for all butterflies, as well as the White Butterflies I saw during my 2018 Big Butterfly Count.

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.
I took this Butterfly Count next to a white Buddleja and a Verbena bonariensis plant. I find that butterflies usually find the lilac and purple coloured Buddleja varieties to be more alluring – when both purple and white Buddlejas are growing together, more butterflies can usually be spotted on the purple flowers.
Buddleja plants are very floriferous, they produce their flowers in panicles, which are comprised of hundreds of individual flowers. Buddleja flowers are a rich source of nectar for butterflies, moths, hoverflies, bees, and other insects.
Buddleja are very easy to grow, drought tolerant plants, just one Buddleja plant will provide nectar for a wide range of butterfly and moth species for most of the summer.
This Buddleja flower has been open for a couple of weeks. The flowers near the base of a Buddleja flower panicle open first, and these flowers are now fading, but the flowers nearer the tip of this panicle are in good condition. This panicle features many flowers which have yet to open.
It’s important to regularly dead-head Buddleja plants. By regularly dead-heading Buddleja your plants you can significantly increase the total number of flowers a plant can produce in a summer, thereby providing more nectar for butterflies, moths, hoverflies, bees, and other pollinating insects.

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.

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