Photo Credits: Explore Kent
Get out for the Count!
It’s high summer and the countdown is on to the 10th anniversary of the Big Butterfly Count – the world’s largest butterfly survey!
Butterflies are highly sensitive indicators of the health of our environment. By studying them we can gain insights into the state of nature on a wider scene. Because butterflies react quickly to changes in the environment, they act as an early warning signal for other wildlife losses.
The Big Butterfly Count helps us to see the trends in populations that help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction. These patterns will also help us to understand the effects of climate change on wildlife. This summer, we’re keen to see how common garden butterflies are faring, as despite many species bouncing back in the 2018 heatwave, colourful favourites such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock both recorded poor years.
Chris Packham will be launching the Big Butterfly Count at the Natural History Museum on Friday 19th July and it runs for three weeks until Sunday 11th August. Getting involved couldn’t be easier! Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather during the Big Butterfly Count. We’ve chosen this time of year because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle and so are more likely to be seen. Don’t be discouraged from sending us your record if you don’t see any butterflies – a zero count is still an important piece of data.
Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens to fields and forests. Just record what you see and send your results to www.bigbutterflycount.org or submit them using the free Big Butterfly Count app. Last year a record 100,000 participants took part, spotting almost one million butterflies across the UK. It would be great to break that record this year!
The Big Butterfly Count invites people to collect vital data and at the same time to connect with the nature on their doorstep. Being outdoors and observing nature is proven to have a positive effect on our mental health. Why not take part in your local park or garden on your lunch break?
Butterfly Conservation is the national charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. If you’d like to learn more about butterflies and moths, the Kent & South East London Branch run numerous free events throughout the year, including a chance to take part in the Count at a guided butterfly walk near the White Cliffs of Dover in August.
Kent is a fantastic county for Lepidoptera. It’s ancient woodland, chalk grassland and miles of coastal parks are home to over forty species of butterfly and some of the rarest moths in the country, including several that are found nowhere else in Britain, like the Black-veined moth and the Sussex Emerald. Visit www.butterfly-conservation.org/in-your-area/kent-and-se-london-branch to find out more.
Nathan Jones, Chair, Kent & South East London Branch of Butterfly Conservation
Photo Credits: John Murray and Christopher Mills