Starting this Friday and continuing through the first week of August, the largest survey in the world for butterflies and day-flying moths will take place in the United Kingdom. We’ve featured lepidopterists and citizen scientists here before, including today and for last year’s event, which involved over fifty thousand people counting more than half a million lepidopterans. It’s great to see such a simple yet complete chart/app to ID the more common butterflies that people may encounter –– I would have really appreciated something like that for Costa Rica! Read more about the project below:
Why count butterflies?
Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.
That’s why counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature.
The count will also assist us in identifying trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.
How to take part
Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather during the big butterfly count. We have chosen this time of year because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens, to fields and forests.
If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once . If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.
Download our handy identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen.
You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, and for different places that you visit. Remember that your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths.
Unfortunately, we cannot accept any counts sent in on paper or by email, text or phone. The website will be open to receive records throughout July and August.
Visit www.bigbutterflycount.org to learn more.