More Big Butterfly Counts in my Garden!

Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2021

This weekend brings us our final chances to take a Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2021.  This lovely annual event closes for the year on Sunday 8th August 2021.

A Butterfly Count lasts for 15 minutes, it’s fun, relaxing, and really couldn’t be easier to do!

Why count butterflies?

The information gathered from all the Butterfly Counts taken across the UK, will help Butterfly Conservation to identify the species of butterflies and day flying moths that are becoming more scarce and highlight which species are succeeding or recovering.  The Big Butterfly Count is important, as it helps Butterfly Conservation to be better informed and therefore more able to protect these beautiful creatures.

Peacock Butterflies have amazing markings that resemble eyes. A butterfly’s wing spots can help to protect them from predators; when a butterfly closes and opens their wings, they flash their ‘eyes’. This can confuse the predator who may think he’s at risk from a larger sized enemy. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

How to take a Butterfly and Moth Count

It only takes 15 minutes to take a Butterfly Count.  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!

Butterfly and Moth Identification

Don’t worry if you’re not a butterfly expert – you’ll find easy to use butterfly and moth identification charts on Butterfly Conservation’s website.  There’s even a Big Butterfly Count app, which will help you to identify, count, and submit your results – you can find it at both the Apple and Android app stores.

If you love Peacock Butterflies, why not make room for some nettles in a warm and sunny part of your garden? Nettles are the Peacock Butterfly caterpillar’s food plants; although sometimes Peacock Butterflies lay their eggs on Hops (Humulus lupulus).

Counting Butterflies and Moths

If you’re taking your Butterfly and Moth Count on a walk, then each time you see a butterfly or moth you record it – so if you see three Peacock Butterflies, you record these as three.  However, it’s a little bit different if you’re taking your Butterfly and Moth Count in a static location, say for example, in your garden or at your allotment, where you’ll remain stationary in one place.  So, for this type of stationary 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!  If you don’t see any butterflies or moths at all, it’s still important to record this result.

You can take as many Butterfly Counts as you want.  What could be lovelier than spending the day counting butterflies and looking for day flying moths?

Results of my 2021 Big Butterfly Counts in my garden

Red Admiral Butterflies are survivors that are well adapted to almost any habitat. I saw this butterfly species while I was taking my Big Butterfly Counts in the chalk grasslands of Ranmore Common; I’ve also seen Red Admiral Butterflies in parks and woodlands, and Red Admiral Butterflies visit my small garden.

I took these Big Butterfly Count in my garden.  I observed the butterflies and moths that came to feed from my Buddleja ‘Pink Delight’Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’, and Leucanthemum vulgare plants.

This Inula hookeri flower looks rather chewed, but this Small White Butterfly was very happy to feast on the bloom’s nectar. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

During my first Big Butterfly Count, I saw the following butterflies:

  • 3 Gatekeeper Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pyronia tithonus).
  • 2 Red Admiral Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Vanessa atalanta).
  • 2 Large White Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pieris brassicae).
  • 2 Small White Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pieris rapae).
  • 1 Peacock Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Aglais io).

During my second Big Butterfly Count, I observed the following butterflies:

  • 3 Large White Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pieris brassicae).
  • 2 Red Admiral Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Vanessa atalanta).
  • 2 Gatekeeper Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pyronia tithonus).
  • 1 Peacock Butterfly (also known by their scientific name, Aglais io).
  • 1 Small White Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Pieris rapae).

During my third Big Butterfly Count, I spotted the following butterflies:

  • 3 Red Admiral Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Vanessa atalanta).
  • 3 Large White Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pieris brassicae).
  • 2 Peacock Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Aglais io).
  • 2 Gatekeeper Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pyronia tithonus).
  • 1 Small White Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Pieris rapae).
During my fourth Big Butterfly Count, I spotted the following butterflies:
  • 3 Peacock Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Aglais io).
  • 2 Red Admiral Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Vanessa atalanta).
  • 1 Comma Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Polygonia c-album).
  • 1 Large White Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Pieris brassicae).
  • 1 Gatekeeper Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Pyronia tithonus).
During my fifth Big Butterfly Count, I spotted the following butterflies:
  • 2 Comma Butterflies (also known by its scientific name, Polygonia c-album).
  • 2 Peacock Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Aglais io).
  • 2 Small White Butterflies (also known by its scientific name, Pieris rapae).
  • 1 Clouded Yellow Butterfly (also known by its scientific Name, Colias croceus).
  • 1 Red Admiral Butterfly (also known by their scientific name, Vanessa atalanta).
  • 1 Gatekeeper Butterfly (also known by their scientific name, Pyronia tithonus).
  • 1 Holly Blue Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Celastrina argiolus).
I was excited to see all of these butterflies this week, but I was absolutely bowled over to see a Clouded Yellow Butterfly (Colias croceus) in my garden yesterday!  This was absolutely a first for me – I’ve never seen this butterfly in any of the gardens I’ve had (or any gardens I’ve visited).  I’ve only seen one or two Clouded Yellow Butterflies before – both times on chalk hillsides, in the countryside.  I still can’t quite believe I saw a Clouded Yellow Butterfly in my garden – it was a truly magical moment!
My garden is Peacock central now my Buddlejas (Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’ and Buddleja ‘Pink Delight’) are in flower.  As a child I was absolutely mesmerised and captivated by Peacock Butterflies.  I would spend my summers studying what plants butterflies and moths were most attracted to; I am still just as interested in plants and butterflies and moths, all these years later!
I must say that using the Smartphone App, it was a simple and quick process to send Butterfly Conservation the details of my Big Butterfly Counts.  Don’t forget to submit your results if you’re taking a Butterfly Count – it only takes a moment!
I’m currently busy working on a number of my Garden Trials, so our garden table is covered with labels! I’m using Haxnicks Bamboo Plant Markers. This beautiful Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) decided to rest on my plant labels!
This Red Admiral Butterfly spent a long time feasting upon these Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’ flowers. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
This Gatekeeper Butterfly (like this Inula hookeri flower) is looking a little worn.

If you’re interested in Inula hookeri, find information on this plant – here.

Buddlejas are great plants for butterflies. Butterflies tend to be attracted to purple flowered plants, like this Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’.

If you’re interested in Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’, find information on this plant – here.

See pictures of the butterflies I spotted during the Big Butterfly Counts I took for Butterfly Conservation, in my garden!
White Butterflies, like this Small White Butterfly are the most commonly seen butterflies in my small garden. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
Here’s another stunning Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io); this is such a magnificent butterfly! Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

If you’re interested in Buddleja ‘Pink Delight’, find information on this plant – here.

This Peacock Butterfly spent some of the afternoon basking in the sunshine, on the honeysuckle (Lonicera) and Hedera helix hedge by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 7th August 2021.

If you’re interested in Hedera helix, find more information on this plant – here.

Like almost all of the UK, the plants in my garden are flowering later due to the cold start to the year. My Buddlejas are at their peak now. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
This is a Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) feeding on Inula hookeri nectar. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
I just adore Peacock Butterflies. Their wing markings are just mesmerising! These ‘eye’ markings can confuse predators into thinking that a larger unknown species is waiting for them, giving the butterfly the chance to escape to safety.
This Red Admiral Butterfly is visiting a Clematis ‘Paul Farges’ flower. Pictured in my garden on the 3rd August 2021.
These two Gatekeeper Butterflies were swirling around each other in my garden while I was taking a Butterfly Count.
This Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) is feeding on Knautia arvensis nectar. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
A striking Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) feeding on the nectar of Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’ flowers. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
There was a bee flying towards the camera as I took this picture of a Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus) feasting upon Leucanthemum vulgare nectar. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
This Large White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae) is feeding on the nectar of Buddleja ‘Pink Delight’. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.
This Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) spent around 10 minutes basking on the ivy by my wildlife pond. It was lovely to see this Comma but it retained its distance and remained out of reach of a good photo.
Gatekeeper Butterflies can be identified by their two tiny white dots in the centre of the dark eye-like markings.
Here’s the underside of a Gatekeeper’s (Pyronia tithonus) wings. Pictured on the 6th August 2021.
Can you spot the butterfly?
I adore Peacock Butterflies!
This Peacock Butterfly enjoyed feasting upon the nectar from these faded ‘Wild Edric’ rose flowers. Pictured on the 6th August 2021.

Find information on Rosa ‘Wild Edric’, here.

I observed this butterfly as it feasted upon a faded ‘Wild Edric’ rose flower, near my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 6th July 2021.
This Peacock Butterfly has enjoyed an exciting afternoon feasting on sugary secretions from this faded rose flower and basking in the sunshine.
This Gatekeeper Butterfly has some damage to its wings and looks a little ragged. Pictured on the 6th August 2021.

Find information on Inula hookeri, here.

The blue colouring of this Peacock Butterfly’s wings perfectly match the blue tone of ‘Ellen’s Blue’ Buddleja. Pictured on the 7th August 2021.
This Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) enjoyed basking in the sunshine on this Hedera helix (ivy) hedge alongside my wildlife pond.
Comma Butterflies (Polygonia c-album) are very well camouflaged and can look like autumn leaves. Pictured during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation.

How to Submit the results of your Butterfly Count

If you’re taking your own Big Butterfly Count, please don’t forget to submit your results to Butterfly Conservation’s website.  Butterfly Conservation will use your butterfly recordings to discover how the UK’s butterflies are faring this summer.  Butterfly Conservation will use this information to develop methods to help ensure a brighter future for butterflies.

Butterfly conservation ask that anyone who wishes to take part in this year’s Butterfly Count records their sightings and sends the results in to their butterfly and moth experts who will study the findings to evaluate the populations of our British butterflies and moths.

Ways to help butterflies, moths, and other insects

Red Admiral Butterflies usually lay their eggs on nettles (Urtica dioica) and Small Nettles (Urtica urens), but these butterflies can also use Pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria judaica) and Hops (Humulus lupulus). Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

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:

Other articles that may interest you…………….

You can see all of the posts I have written about my Big Butterfly Counts, if you click here.

For more ideas of plants to attract bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinating insects, please click here.

To see the results of my Moth Night Moth Count, please click here.

To see my update from my wildlife pond in midsummer, please click here.

Other articles you might like:

One thought on “More Big Butterfly Counts in my Garden!

  1. Emma

    August 7, 2021 at 11:19am

    Dear Beth, thank you for another great post ! Though I didn’t leave a comment, I really enjoyed your last entries on butterflies and moths, and your pond !

    The systematic but joyful approach you’re taking actually inspired me to take more notes and photos of the wildlife I can observe in my garden. I don’t have your photography skills, and often struggle to recognize and name the species, but I try my best.
    I find it very rewarding, like I now have a more intimate knowledge of my garden, and a more mindful appreciation of it. More and more do I now understand that *my* garden actually is the living space of a multitude of beings – and I am the caretaker rather than the master. In the past, I was always happy to watch a heron in my pond, or a fox passing through the thicket, but I now really enjoy spotting smaller beings like moths and dragonflies. It brings me a lot of joy.

    I hope August will be another interesting month in the garden, and I’m looking forward to more posts from you 🙂
    Emma from Germany

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      August 7, 2021 at 11:49am

      Oh Emma, your lovely message has totally made my day! I am so happy that you’re enjoying watching wildlife and caring for your garden and all the fascinating life it holds. I bet you see lots of wonderful insects in Germany – I am sure that you’ll see many of the same species that I see in my garden. None of us own anything, we are all caretakers of our gardens and caretakers of the planet. It’s wonderful to connect to a kindred spirit.

      Thank you for letting me know that you’ve enjoyed my posts – I receive hundreds of messages from readers every month, but they usually ask questions on different subjects rather than feedback on my work. I am so happy that you’ve enjoyed reading my articles and seeing my pictures. Messages like yours make all the work worthwhile – thank you.
      Warmest wishes
      Beth

Your email will not be published. Name and Email fields are required