big butterfly count

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big butterfly count 2014 results: country by country

The most common species tend to be similar across the UK, although some don’t occur in every country. However, there are some interesting variations.

The Top 10 most abundant species in each UK country were as follows:

England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales
1. Peacock 1. Green-veined White 1. Small Tortoiseshell 1. Gatekeeper
2. Gatekeeper 2. Small Tortoiseshell 2. Peacock 2. Small White
3. Small White 3. Small White 3. Green-veined White 3. Meadow Brown
4. Small Tortoiseshell 4. Peacock 4. Small White 4. Small Tortoiseshell
5. Meadow Brown 5. Ringlet 5. Meadow Brown 5. Peacock
6. Large White 6. Meadow Brown 6. Large White 6. Large White
7. Red Admiral 7. Large White 7. Red Admiral 7. Common Blue
8. Common Blue 8. Six-spot Burnet 8. Ringlet 8. Red Admiral
9. Green-veined White 9. Red Admiral 9. Speckled Wood 9. Green-veined White
10. Speckled Wood 10. Speckled Wood 10. Common Blue 10. Ringlet


All change at the top

Last year, the ‘whites’ dominated the top positions, coming first in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and runner-up in Scotland. This year, it is all change with the colourful Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, as well as Gatekeeper, taking the top spots across the UK nations.

In each country a majority of the target species decreased in abundance this summer when compared with last year's big butterfly count. However, the extent of this slump in numbers varied. Wales was least affected with 57% species decreasing and the situation was almost identical in Scotland (58% species decreased year on year). By comparison 67% of the target species decreased in England and 72% decreased in Northern Ireland.

The 'whites' had a bad summer across the board. Large White, Small White and Green-veined White each decreased in each UK country compared with the 2013 results. Similarly Meadow Brown and Ringlet decreased in all of the nations this year.

On the other hand, there was little consistency across the countries among increasing species. The Peacock did particularly well in the north, increasing by 366% compared with 2013 in Scotland and by 244% in Northern Ireland. However, its numbers were little changed in Wales and showed a decrease of 33% in England (although it was, nevertheless, the most abundant butterfly in England).

Small Tortoiseshell showed the opposite pattern, increasing strongly in Wales (44% up) and England (28% up) but declining somewhat on last year's high numbers in both Scotland (29% down) and Northern Ireland (22% down). Despite these declines, the species held onto top position in Scotland and second place in Northern Ireland, just as in big butterfly count 2013, while climbing to its highest positions yet in both England and Wales (fourth place in both countries in 2014).

Participation patterns

Public participation in big butterfly count 2014 was excellent once again, with over 44,000 people taking part overall. A fantastic effort by each and every one of you! As would be expected (based on human population size), most counts were undertaken in England (accounting for 88% of counts) although the total number completed dropped a little compared with the 2013 Count. Wales also saw a small decrease in the total number of counts, but still accounted for the next largest propotion (4.5% of all 2014 counts). On the other hand, the number of counts increased in Northern Ireland this year, by just six counts (proving that each and every one does make a difference!), while Scotland put in the best performance with a 12% increase to 1736 counts in 2014.

The involvement of people right across the UK is absolutely vital to ensure the success of the big butterfly count and our ability to track the changing fortunes of our beautiful butterflies and moths.

Thanks to you all!

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