Big Butterfly Count
he Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide citizen science survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world's biggest survey of butterflies. Over 107,000 citizen scientists took part in 2021, submitting 152,039 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK.
The Big Butterfly Count 2023 reopens on 1st July ready for the main event between 14th July and 6th August. All the counts can be viewed on the Interactive Map
Why count butterflies?
We count butterflies because not only are they beautiful creatures to be around but they are also extremely important. They 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.
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. So tracking numbers of butterflies is crucial in the fight to conserve our natural world. That's why taking part in this massive citizen science enterprise is of great importance not just for our butterflies but for the wider environment and biodiversity in general.
So, thank you for taking the time to help!
Counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature and we depend on you, our citizen scientists, to help us assess how much help nature needs. The data from this and other counts will also help us to identify important trends in species that will assist us in planning how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understanding the effect of climate change on wildlife.
How to take part
Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather during the Big Butterfly Count. We have chosen this time of year because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens, to fields and forests.
If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) - this is so that you don't count the same butterfly more than once.
If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.
We have provided a list of target butterfly and day-flying moth species in your area we'd like you to count. By restricting the list we minimise counting error and therefore have a clearer view of actual butterfly numbers across the country.