Butterflies: who’s counting?

Butterflies: who’s counting?

Launched in 2010, the Big Butterfly Count has become the world’s largest survey of butterflies

Over 60,000 people took part in The Big Butterfly Count in 2017, submitting 62,500 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK. This year’s count starts on July 20.

Butterflies react very quickly to changes in their environment, which makes them an early warning indicator of other wildlife losses. The annual count also helps organisers Butterfly Conservation identify population trends for the different species.


To take part, you simply need to count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather, any time between July 20 and August 12. Records are welcome from anywhere: gardens, parks, countryside, fields and forests.

The small tortoiseshell. Picture: Iain Cowe, Butterfly Conservation

If you are counting from a fixed position, count the maximum number of each species that you see at a single time. If you are doing your count on a walk, total up the number of each species that you see during the 15 minutes. You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, or for different places that you visit. Your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies. You can submit your sightings online before the end of August, or by using the free Big Butterfly Count smartphone apps, available for iOS and Android.


Find out more, download the free butterfly ID chart and submit your records at https://www.bigbutterflycount.org/about

Main picture: The peacock butterfly. Courtesy: Iain Cowe, Butterfly Conservation


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Steve Ott

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