Big Butterfly Count

Help take ' pulse of nature' well as protecting butterflies from extinction

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The Big Butterfly Count 16th-31st July 2011


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The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and an impressive 10,000 people took part, counting 210,000 butterflies and day-flying moths across the nation. It is hoped that many more people will join this year's big butterfly count (16th-31st July 2011).

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 in identifying trends in species that will help 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 from 16th to 31 st July 2011. This time of year has been chosen 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.

You can submit separate records for different dates, and for different places that you visit. Remember that your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths.

You can only send in your sightings online at Unfortunately, counts sent in on paper or by email, text or phone cannot be accepted. Anyone can take part, young or old, but if you are under 16 you’ll need a parent or guardian to assist when you submit your count online. The website will be open to receive records throughout July and August.

Celebrity backing

Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, and Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Vice President of Butterfly Conservation, have given their enthusiastic backing to the project and will support its launch and operation.

Who is running the survey?

The survey is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation, in association with Marks & Spencer as part of their Plan A commitments to encourage sustainable agriculture and help to protect the environment.

You can help Butterfly Conservation in many ways:

  • Become a member
  • Help with other surveys
  • Donate money to help save butterflies and moths
  • Tell your friends how to get involved

July 20, 2011