Isle of Wight Zoo ambassador and TV presenter, Chris Packham, is launching this year’s Big Butterfly Count.
With millions of people gaining comfort through nature during the lockdown, the TV naturalist believes the Big Butterfly Count is an easy way for people to give back and help conserve our natural environment for future generations.
After a record 113,502 people took part last year, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation believes this summer’s UK-wide event could be even bigger.
Fine spring weather has seen the earliest average emergence of butterflies for 20 years, sparking thousands of extra enquiries from a curious public about their butterfly and moth sightings.
The Big Butterfly Count asks people to spend 15 minutes in an outdoor space in sunny weather counting the amount and type of butterflies (and two day-flying moths) they see. They then submit their findings to complete being part of the UK’s largest citizen science project.
Last year 1,595,579 butterflies were counted – an average of 16.25 per 15-minute count. The Painted Lady was sighted 420,841 times, followed by the the Peacock (207,814) and Small White (179,715). Others sighted over 100,000 times were the Gatekeeper (161,987), Large White (139,671) and Meadow Brown (110,858).
Each year the data is used to map and measure populations and the geographic spread of species across the UK. It is a key indicator of the health of our environment, including the effects of climate change.
Areas rich in butterflies and moths are rich in other wildlife. They are an important element of the food chain as prey for birds, bats and other animals and also as pollinators. Submitting counts with zero sightings is also important as it lets our scientists know where there might be problems
The annual event, the world’s biggest survey of butterflies, runs from today (17) July to Sunday August 9, the time of year when butterflies should be at their most abundant and almost all of the 19 target Big Butterfly Count species widespread across the UK.
Anyone can sign up by downloading the app or species charts for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from Bigbutterflycount.org