Over the next three weeks (15 July – 7 August) we should all put aside 15 minutes to monitor the number of butterflies in our gardens – taking part in the UK’s Big Butterfly Count.
Launched in 2010, this nationwide survey aims to help experts assess the health of our environment. Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators – declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.
The count, which is organised by the charity Butterfly Conservation, is being backed by celebrities Sir David Attenburgh and Alan Titchmarch. The idea behind the survey is that it will help to identify trends in species that will help the charity plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.
To take part, all you have to do is count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather over the next three weeks. 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.
For more information about how to submit your findings, and to find out more about the count, visit http://www.bigbutterflycount.org