Help us take nature's pulse by joining the big butterfly count. Find out more about this project
The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapdily become the world's biggest survey of butterflies. An impressive 25,500 people took part in 2012, counting 223,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK (see the 2012 results).
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.
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, 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 www.bigbutterflycount.org. Unfortunately, we cannot accept any counts sent in on paper or by email, text or phone. 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.
Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Mike Dilger and Nick Baker, Vice Presidents of Butterfly Conservation, have given their enthusiastic backing to the project and will support its launch and operation.
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:
You can find out more about Marks and Spencer’s commitments to the environment by visiting their Plan A website and signing up for their newsletter.