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Big Butterfly Count 2021: how to get involved

·2-min read
Photo credit: Andrea Edwards / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Andrea Edwards / EyeEm - Getty Images

The Big Butterfly Count, the world's largest citizen science survey, is back for 2021.

The annual Count is important for many reasons – butterflies are vital parts of the ecosystem as both pollinators and components of the food chain, however, they are under threat.

'Numbers of butterflies and moths in the UK have decreased significantly since the 1970s. This is a warning that cannot be ignored,' explain the Butterfly Conservation. 'Butterfly declines are also an early warning for other wildlife losses. Butterflies are key biodiversity indicators for scientists as they react very quickly to changes in their environment. Therefore, if their numbers are falling, then nature is in trouble.'

The Butterfly Count is a great activity for kids and adults, and just taking 15 minutes out of your day to surround yourself in nature and understand the butterfly population is beneficial all-round.

What is it?

The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey, which first launched in 2010, and is now the world's biggest survey of butterflies. In 2020, more than 111,500 people (citizen scientists) took part, submitting 145,249 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.

When is it?

The Big Butterfly Count launches on Friday 16th July until Sunday 8th August 2021. You will be able to submit records throughout July and August.

Photo credit: Haitong Yu - Getty Images
Photo credit: Haitong Yu - Getty Images

How can I get involved?

You can either download the Big Butterfly Count app for iOS and Android or record your results on downloadable chart sheets from Bigbutterflycount.org. Watch and observe for 15 minutes and record your findings. 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 don't spot any butterflies at all) are important and should be submitted.

FUN FACT: The UK has 59 species of butterflies – 57 resident species of butterflies and two regular migrants – the Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow.

What am I likely to see?

'Big Butterfly Count takes place during the peak abundance of butterflies in the UK, when the most widespread and numerous species are on the wing. Nevertheless, no two years are alike and as we have had a warm spring, and butterflies have emerged early, we may see less of our early-summer flying species (such as Marbled White and Ringlet) by mid-July, when the Count starts, and more of our late-summer flying species (such as Large White and Peacock),' explains the Butterfly Conservation.

'It also depends where you live or make your butterfly count as to what you are likely to see, as butterfly populations can be different in urban or rural areas as well as clustered in different places across the UK.'

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