Jul 18 2019

The Big Butterfly Count

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been marvelling at the wonderful silver-studded blues flitting across our local heaths and, excitingly, I saw my first graylings of the year at Yateley yesterday. The graylings did exactly what they always do – fly up off the path in front and totally disappear on landing, often never to be seen again, such is their amazing camouflage!

Silver-studded blue [Chobham Common]


After each encounter, I ensure I always studiously log what I have seen on a phone app that feeds into a national database of sightings.

These records are really important for monitoring, not just these particular species, but when combined with others, provide an indication as to the changing health of our wider environment. My small efforts in donating my tuppence-worth to lepidopteral science might not seem much in isolation, but they can provide an important extra piece to a really significant jigsaw.

And we can all contribute to this!

In order to build up a far more comprehensive picture of the state of the UK’s butterflies than my small-scale efforts, Butterfly Conservation – the British charity that is devoted to saving butterflies, moths and their habitats throughout the UK – runs an annual survey to assess the health of the environment by asking the general public (i.e. you!) to spend fifteen minutes getting out in their garden, local park, nearby heathland (basically anywhere except a butterfly house)  and count the butterflies (and some day-flying moths) that they see. More information on the website.

You can even count small butterflies too!


How to take part?

All you need to do is spend fifteen minutes, between Friday 19th July and Sunday August 11th counting the butterflies you see, jot down what you see and then submit your results.  You can either spend the time in one place or going on a walk.  For the former, you record the greatest number of each species you see at any one time (this helps to avoid counting the same one twice) and, for the latter, you just tally up everything you see as you go.

Here’s a video of TV’s Nick Baker explaining how it all works…

An amazing 100,000 people took part in 2018, making it the biggest butterfly count in the world!

If you don’t yet know your butterflies, help is at hand!


Now it’s your turn… Pick a sunny day, get outside and get counting. And let us know what you see!

Education & Engagement Officer


Oh, and if you’d like to find out more about butterflies, please consider coming along to our ‘Butterflies & Other Things With Wings’ event during Heath Week


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