The Results of My Final Big Butterfly Counts for Butterfly Conservation in 2023

My Final Big Butterfly Counts for Butterfly Conservation in 2023

I’m sad that Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count has finished for another year, but I am delighted that I managed to take two Big Butterfly Counts yesterday; the sun shone following a day of heavy rain and thunderstorms.  I am already looking forward to the Big Butterfly Count returning in 2024; however, before then I plan to spend as much time as possible outdoors with butterflies and moths!

Here are the results of my final two Big Butterfly Counts that I took on the 6th August 2023, along with the pictures I took during yesterday’s Big Butterfly Counts…..

The Results of my First Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation on 6th August 2023…..

If you want to see Small Copper Butterflies in your garden, consider growing the appropriate caterpillar food plants as well as nectar-rich flowers to sustain the adult butterflies. The main caterpillar food plants for the Small Copper Butterfly are Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius) may be used occasionally. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.

I saw these butterflies and moths during my first Big Butterfly Count at the edge of my village green, on the 6th August 2023……..

  • 6 Gatekeeper Butterflies (Pyronia tithonus)
  • 6 Meadow Brown Butterflies (Maniola jurtina)
  • 2 Small Copper Butterflies (Lycaena phlaeas)
I took my Big Butterfly Count at the edge of the village green. This grassland is a vital habitat for butterflies, moths, bees, insects, and a vast array of invertebrates and other wildlife. This picture shows the Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvensis), nettles and meadow grasses, which are all vital plants for UK insects. I saw this Small Copper Butterfly on the 6th August 2023, during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
The Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas) is sometimes seen in gardens, but these dear little butterflies are usually seen on chalk grasslands, unimproved grasslands, heathlands, moorlands, downlands, woodland clearings, and waste ground. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
Adult Small Copper Butterflies live for up to a few weeks. These butterflies are on the wing (in the UK) from May to the end of October. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
This Gatekeeper Butterfly is also known by another common name – the Hedge Brown Butterfly, and by its scientific name – Pyronia tithonus. This Gatekeeper enjoyed feasting on the nectar from these Creeping Thistle flowers. Creeping Thistles are a UK wildflowers; they’re also known by their botanical name, Cirsium arvensis. Pictured during my Big Butterfly Count on the 6th August 2023.
I captured this picture of a wasp flying towards this Creeping Thistle (also known by the botanical name, Cirsium arvensis) whilst a Small Copper Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Lycaena phlaeas) was feeding. It’s possible that the wasp was trying to capture this Small Copper Butterfly; if this was the case, then I can reassure you that the wasp was unsuccessful and the butterfly flew away.
Spear Thistles (also known by their botanical name, Cirsium vulgare) are another UK wildflower that are a magnet for bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects.

The Results of my Second Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation on 6th August 2023…..

I took these Big Butterfly Counts one after the other; I saw these butterflies and moths during my second Big Butterfly Count at the edge of my village green, on the 6th August 2023……..

This male Common Blue Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Polyommatus icarus) is a stunner! If you want to help these butterflies grow nectar rich plants with accessible flowers and plants for the caterpillars to eat. The main food plant for Common Blue Butterfly caterpillars is Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Other plants include: Greater Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus), Black Medick (Medicago lupulina), Common Restharrow (Ononis repens), White Clover (Trifolium repens), Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium). I was thrilled to spot this butterfly during my final Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation on the 6th August 2023.
  • 3 Gatekeeper Butterflies (Pyronia tithonus)
  • 2 Meadow Brown Butterflies (Maniola jurtina)
  • 2 Small Copper Butterflies (Lycaena phlaeas
  • 1 Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
This very worn Small Copper Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Lycaena phlaeas) is a shadow of its former self. Butterflies and moths have faced challenging conditions with all the wind and rain we’ve had over the past month. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
I adore the Small Copper Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Lycaena phlaeas). This small but incredibly beautiful butterfly measures between 30mm and 35mm (1.1- 1.3 inches). Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
I saw at least four different Small Copper Butterflies (also known by their scientific name, Lycaena phlaeas) yesterday during my Big Butterfly Count. I only counted two butterflies at once, but due to the difference in their health and condition I can identify at least four different Small Copper Butterflies from the pictures I took. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
This Small Copper Butterfly (also known by its scientific name, Lycaena phlaeas) is battered and tattered and the colour from its wings has has been washed off and faded. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
This Small Copper Butterfly enjoyed feasting on the nectar from these Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvensis) flowers. If you want to see these stunning butterflies, consider growing nectar-rich flowers for the adult butterflies and caterpillar food plants in your garden. The main caterpillar food plants for the Small Copper Butterfly are Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius) may be used occasionally. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
If you want to encourage Small Copper Butterflies, consider growing both nectar-rich flowers for the adult butterflies and food plants for the caterpillars. The main caterpillar food plants for the Small Copper Butterfly are Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius) may be used occasionally. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
Here’s a view of the underside of the Small Copper Butterfly’s wing. This butterfly is also known by the scientific name, Lycaena phlaeas. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.
Newly emerged Small Copper Butterfly wings are a bright-and-cheery-orange and chocolate-brown colour, but as the butterflies age their wings fade. Pictured on the 6th August during my final Big Butterfly Count for 2023.

Remember to Submit Your Big Butterfly Count Results to Share the Results with Butterfly Conservation

Small Copper Butterflies are particularly fond of feeding on thistle nectar. This is the Creeping Thistle, also known by its botanical name Cirsium arvensis.

If you’ve taken a Big Butterfly Count, please remember to submit your results via Butterfly Conservation’s website.  Butterfly Conservation will use your Big Butterfly Count results to discover how the UK’s butterflies are faring.  Butterfly Counts are fun, but the results we compile are actually really important information that help Butterfly Conservation’s experts monitor UK butterflies.

Even Butterfly Counts where no butterflies are spotted are helpful to Butterfly Conservation. The Big Butterfly Count results we send in highlight areas of the British Isles where butterflies are thriving, and identify the areas of the country where butterflies are not doing as well.  The Big Butterfly Count results show the progress of our UK butterflies to alert us to the species that are in trouble, and shine a light on the butterfly species that are flourishing.  This information when viewed across the country (and in comparison to the Big Butterfly Counts taken in earlier years) will help conservation experts develop methods to help create a brighter future for butterflies.

Butterfly Conservation ask that anyone who took part in this year’s Butterfly Count, records their sightings and sends the results in to their butterfly and moth experts.

To see my guide to creating a meadow, please click here.

To read about growing caterpillar food plants for butterflies and moths, please click here.

To see all of my Big Butterfly Counts for Butterfly Conservation, please click here.

For gardening advice for August, please click here.

For more articles about wildlife gardening, please click here.

To see my plant pages, please click here.

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One thought on “The Results of My Final Big Butterfly Counts for Butterfly Conservation in 2023

  1. Maureen

    August 7, 2023 at 3:01pm

    I love the photo of your Common Blue butterfly, it’s not common here but one did come into the garden, I also had a Peacock and two small brown visit. Small garden so don’t see many. I had left it too late to register

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      August 7, 2023 at 4:10pm

      Hello Maureen

      It’s great to hear from you. How lovely that you saw a Peacock Butterfly and some brown butterflies, too! You can still submit your results – providing you took your butterfly count during the time period Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count was running – it ended last night. I hope you see many more butterflies in your garden this summer!

      Warmest wishes
      Beth

  2. Barb Perks

    August 7, 2023 at 4:07pm

    Love the action shot of the wasp! Thanks as ever, PumpkinBeth!
    Best wishes
    Barb

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      August 7, 2023 at 4:12pm

      Hello Barb

      I’m so glad you liked my photo! I hope you’re seeing lots of butterflies in your garden and interesting wildlife around your pond. I hope you’re having a great week!

      Best wishes
      Beth

  3. Maureen

    February 17, 2024 at 2:42pm

    I was very surprised to see three butterfles come into the garden in January.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      February 17, 2024 at 2:46pm

      Hello Maureen

      How lovely that you’ve seen butterflies in January, that sounds like a special memory. I have happy memories of seeing the occasional butterfly on autumn and winter walks. I hope you’re having a lovely weekend.

      Best wishes
      Beth

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