TV presenter Chris Packham has joined forces with wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation to launch this year’s Big Butterfly Count.
They’re asking people across Scotland and the UK to “give a gift back to nature” this summer, following a difficult few months in lockdown where a walk outside has provided many with welcome relief.
The fine weather of spring 2020 has seen the earliest average emergences of butterflies for the last 20 years, and Butterfly Conservation has received thousands of extra enquiries about butterfly and moth sightings made by an ever more nature-loving public.
This year’s Big Butterfly Count, an annual citizen science event which saw over 113,000 members of the public take part last year, asks participants to spend 15 minutes in an outdoor space counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) they see.
There were 11,057 counts submitted in Scotland for the Big Butterfly Count last year, with overwhelmingly abundant numbers of Painted Lady butterflies spotted.
Numbers were up up 7,541% (141,649 spotted) from the previous year, while Green-veined White and Small Copper butterflies saw declines of 56% and 60% respectively.
Packham said: “While so many of us have had a bit more time to appreciate the nature on our doorsteps during the lockdown period, and learning about the natural world has been a mindful distraction from uncertainty, this is a real chance to do something positive and contribute to conserving nature.
“Butterflies and moths are key indicators of the health of our environment and anyone can help contribute to our understanding of these incredible creatures by taking part in in the Big Butterfly Count.
“The sightings you submit will be used to map and measure populations and the geographic spread of species across the UK. We’re asking everyone who have been given a helping hand from nature this year to return the favour.”
Dr Zoë Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation said: “We’re excited to find out the results from the Big Butterfly Count this year. The very sunny spring weather meant that almost all butterfly species have emerged early this summer, so we’re hoping for some interesting data. As our weather patterns change it’s more important than ever for us to be able capture this information.
“We’ve seen an incredible amount of interest from people who have been out and about in their gardens and local areas spotting butterflies for the first time. From children learning about the lifecycle of a butterfly from a caterpillar found in their own back gardens to adults who have spotted a fluttering Red Admiral while exercising outside instead of at the gym. Nature has really shown its true value to us this year, but it is still under threat. Now, more than ever, we must all do our little bit to protect it.”
The Big Butterfly Count is open to people of all ages. Visit Bigbutterflycount.org to find out more or download the free Big Butterfly Count app to enter your findings.
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