Big Butterfly Count

Science on the Land

If you’re in Britain, Butterfly Conservation invites you to take part in this year’s Big Butterfly Count. This will be fun. Also it will be useful because butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) tell us what’s happening on the land. That is, they’re great indicator species.

Our butterflies are in a bad way. The BBC’s Nature Notes pages tell us that UK butterfly numbers are at a historic low. No doubt this is partly due to the last year’s weird weather. But there are longer-term declines too, for example the small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae).

The Big Butterfly Count is only supposed to take 15 minutes. I think I’ll do it in my back garden. The easy identification chart looks useful. They’re not asking us to identify a lot of rare species, just the ones we’re likely to see. If I’m lucky I might see a small…

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