My First Big Butterfly Counts for Butterfly Conservation in 2023!

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2023

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday the 14th July 2023 until Sunday 6th August 2023.  Taking a Butterfly Count is one of my absolute favourite things to do.  I’d really like to encourage you to join in and take your own Butterfly Count – they’re great fun!  A Butterfly Count only lasts for 15 minutes – this activity won’t take up much of your time – you could take a Butterfly Count in your tea break, whilst sitting having lunch, or when you’re out for a walk.   Butterfly Counts are fun and relaxing.  The best thing is, you don’t need to know anything about butterflies to take part in this lovely activity – a Butterfly Count is such an easy thing to do.   I would love to spend the entire day watching butterflies and day-flying moths!

I observed this female Gatekeeper Butterfly in amongst the grass as she opened her wings to bask in the sunlight.

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 whilst you’re taking a walk!

Here’s the same female Gatekeeper Butterfly pictured with her wings closed. Gatekeeper Butterflies have a similar appearance to Meadow Brown Butterflies. A quick way to differentiate between the species is to look at the eye spots on their wings. The Gatekeeper has two white dots inside a dark round eye spot and the Meadow Brown has a similar looking eye spot, but with just one white dot.
This is a female Meadow Brown Butterfly (Maniola jurtina), which is another tired looking butterfly, with fragments missing from its wings. I took this picture during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation today.

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 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.

I was so happy when this Comma Butterfly (also known by its scientific name Polygonia c-album) stopped to rest on the ivy (Hedera helix), as I was grateful to get a chance to take a picture to show you this stunning butterfly.

Counting Butterflies and Moths

If you’re taking your Butterfly and Moth Count during 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 a Butterfly and Moth Count in a static location, say for example, in your garden or at your allotment, where you’ll remain in the same area.  For this type of stationary Butterfly 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 otherwise you might be counting the exact same butterfly time and time again!  If you don’t see any butterflies or moths at all it will be disappointing, but it’s still important to record this result and let Butterfly Conservation know.

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

Whilst I was taking my Big Butterfly Count, I spotted this Jersey Tiger Moth (also known by its scientific name, Euplagia quadripunctaria) fly into my garden. I was grateful that the moth was kind enough to pause and allow me to take a photo.
It seems as if this Male Gatekeeper Butterfly has had a narrow escape from a bird’s beak. The missing section of hind wing is very close to the butterfly’s body. If the butterfly had lost part of his abdomen he would not have survived the incident – so although he’s in poor condition, he’s actually a very lucky fellow.
I saw so many butterflies with damaged wings whilst I was taking my Butterfly Counts today. This is a Red Admiral (also known by the scientific name Vanessa atalanta) feeding on the nectar from Hibiscus flowers. When I see this plant I often think of my friend Kelly, as she loves blue flowers.

My First Big Butterfly Count in my New Garden!

I spent a truly uplifting 15 minutes watching butterflies in my garden this morning.

I saw these butterflies during my first Big Butterfly Count of 2023 in my garden on the 29th July 2023……..

  • 4 Gatekeeper Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pyronia tithonus)
  • 1 Meadow Brown Butterfly (also known by their scientific name, Maniola jurtina)
  • 1 Large White Butterfly (also known by the scientific name, Pieris brassicae)
  • 1 Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
This Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) Butterfly was busy feasting on nectar from this Hardheads flower (also known by the botanical name, Centaurea nigra).

My Second Big Butterfly Count in my New Garden

My first Butterfly Count was so uplifting, after a rest I decided to take another Count.  I saw these butterflies during my second Big Butterfly Count of 2023 in my garden on the 29th July 2023…….

  • 3 Gatekeeper Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pyronia tithonus)
  • 2 Small White Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Pieris rapae)
  • 1 Meadow Brown Butterfly (also known by their scientific name, Maniola jurtina)
  • 1 Small Skipper Butterfly (also known by their scientific name, Thymelicus sylvestris)
Here’s a picture of the same Jersey Tiger Moth as it turns to look at me. This is a really large moth; when it flies you can see the underside of the wings which are orange with black spots.

My Third Big Butterfly Count in my New Garden

The sun came out from behind the clouds and the sunshine fuelled my desire to get outside and take another Butterfly Count.  I saw these butterflies and moths during my third Big Butterfly Count of 2023 in my garden on the 29th July 2023……..

  • 2 Red Admiral Butterflies (Vanessa atalanta)
  • 2 Large White Butterflies (Pieris brassicae)
  • 1 Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
  • 1 Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus)
  • 1 Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria)
  • 1 Meadow Brown Butterfly (Maniola jurtina)
  • 1 Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae)
Butterflies have many predators, including birds, spiders. We can all help butterflies and moths by not spraying the plants in our gardens. Insecticides and pesticides kill butterflies, moths, bees, and other insects. We need to work together to protect wildlife.
Brambles are such fantastic plants for butterflies, moths, bees and other insects. Here’s a Gatekeeper Butterfly hiding in amongst the tangle of spiky stems, leaves and fruit. Can you see the wasp hiding under the leaf on the ripe blackberry?

How to Help Butterflies & Moths?

This is Centaurea nigra, which is also known as Hardheads, Lesser Knapweed or Common Knapweed; it’s a perennial and a UK wildflower that’s a popular plant for butterflies, moths, bees, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects. I took this picture during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation today.

There are many ways you can help butterflies and moths and make a genuine difference to their quality of life and long-term chances of survival.  Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Butterflies are often well camouflaged! This Meadow Brown Butterfly disappears into the grass when its wings are closed.

Here’s a link to more articles I’ve written about plants that are beneficial for bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and other insects.

If you’re interested in growing plants for bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects, you might be interested in a list I’ve compiled of a wide range of different plants that provide nectar and pollen for butterflies, moths, bees, and other insects.  I’ve included photographs and details of how to cultivate each of these butterfly and bee plants, here’s a link.

This Gatekeeper Butterfly stopped to feed on the flowers on one of my mint plants during my Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation today.
Here’s one of the Comma Butterflies (also known by their scientific name Polygonia c-album) I spotted during my Big Butterfly Count today.

How to Submit the results of your Butterfly Count

If you’re taking part in 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.  This is important information that can help Butterfly Conservation’s experts develop methods to help create 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 growth or decline of our British butterflies and moths.

As well as taking Butterfly Counts, I’ve been picking blackberries in my garden today. Picking blackberries is such a joyful thing to do. The berries were so sweet and juicy!
I spotted this Small White Butterfly (also known by its scientific name Pieris rapae) resting on brambles in my garden whilst taking a Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation today.
I spotted this tattered Male Gatekeeper Butterfly whilst taking a butterfly count. I saw this butterfly at various intervals today – he is instantly recognisable due to having chunks missing from his wing!
I hope you’ll see lots of butterflies if you head out to take a Butterfly Count this weekend.

See the results of all my Big Butterfly Counts by clicking here.

See the results of my Moth Night Moth Count by clicking here.

For gardening advice for August, please click here.

For information on how to plant a meadow or flowering lawn, please click here.

Read about more brilliant plants for bees and butterflies, in this article.

Even more ideas of plants for pollinators can be found here.

Other articles you might like:

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