THE public are being urged to take part in this year’s Big Butterfly Count – a UK-wide survey aimed at helping scientists assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies we see.
The count, which is being held by Butterfly Conservation, starts tomorrow Friday (July 16), runs to August 8, and is easy to join for people of all ages.
A spokesperson for the count said: “All you have to do is spend 15 minutes in an outdoor space during sunny conditions and count the types and amount of butterflies, (or the two types of day-flying moths), you see.
“You can do as many counts as you like on different days during the three-week Big Butterfly Count period, and even unsuccessful counts (where you saw no butterflies at all) are important and should be submitted.
Providing feedback on species
“By taking part, people will be helping to assess the health of the environment and provide feedback on how species are coping. The campaign also aims to inspire people to help protect butterflies and other pollinators, which are declining in the UK.
“Last year over 111,000 people submitted more 145,000 counts with 1.5 million butterflies recorded in total. And as this summer more people than ever will be enjoying the wonderful outdoors that the UK has to offer, the charity hope to collect even more data this year.”
Senior Surveys Officer Dr Zoë Randle explains why collecting data on our common butterfly and moth populations is important.
She said: “Understanding how our butterflies and moths are faring is one of the best litmus tests of the health of nature.
“Butterflies and moths are vital contributors to our wider ecosystems, essential foods for birds and mammals such as bats as well as being important pollinators, so understanding how they are doing is very important.
“Last year, thanks to the hot and sunny spring, we found that all our resident butterfly species flew earlier than usual. This worked out well for some species who were able to keep breeding over the long summer, but poorly for others who aren’t designed to do that or found their habitats had changed due to the weather.
“This year we want to know if those populations have been able to bounce back. Understanding the effects of factors including climate change events and other influences caused by humans is instrumental to helping us determine the health of nature.
“So, as butterflies and moths continue to face worrying overall declines, we’re asking for as many people to take part in Big Butterfly Count this year as possible and enjoy doing it too.”
“To take part in the Big Butterfly Count 2021, simply download the free app or visit the website www.bigbutterflycount.org.