The Big Butterfly CountPublished on 13th August 2015
Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment, which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. They can act as an early warning for other wildlife losses. They can show us – beautifully – when things are going well. Every year Butterfly Conservation runs the Big Butterfly Count in July and August, it’s designed to be a barometer on the state of Britain’s wildlife, as well as some of our most-loved insects.
The problem is that the success of the count relies very much on you… Yes, you… and you… and you, and even you at the back there. Because this isn’t a survey conducted by scientists; it relies on data provided by the public, and all that’s required is that you spend 15 minutes outside in your local park, meadow, woodland, or even your own back garden, observing the butterflies and recording the numbers that you see. You’re not expected to be an expert, or have an encyclopaedic knowledge of lepidoptera; you can download an ID chart to take with you on your outing, and then you can enjoy getting back to nature.
Now, we know what you’re going to say: the weather has not been great for butterfly counting in recent weeks; our favourite flutteries don’t tend to fly in the rain; they need sunlight to warm them and dry their wings. However, just the smallest break in the clouds will set our winged friends searching for food, and if you have an Apropos conservatory or veranda, or an Atelier garden room, you’re perfectly positioned to do your count without getting your feet wet.
Depending on where you are in the country, your back garden could be home to some of the most beautiful species. The Large White, Peacock and Red Admiral are common almost everywhere, but each region has its special species: in the south, if you’re very lucky, you’ll see the Large Blue. In the Midlands you might see the Marsh Fritillary or Purple Emperor. In northern England the Green Hairstreak is a sight to see, while the Small Blue or Mountain Ringlet might put in an appearance in Scotland.