big butterfly count

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About the big butterfly count

The big butterfly count is a nationwide 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 113,500 people took part in 2019, submitting 116,009 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK (see all the 2019 results). big butterfly count 2020 will run from Friday 17 July to Sunday 9 August.

Nick Baker introduces the big butterfly count

Why count butterflies?

Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.

That’s why counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature.

The count will also assist us in identifying trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand 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.

Android appDownload our handy identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen.

You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, and for different places that you visit. Remember that your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths.

You can send in your sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or by using our FREE big butterfly count smartphone apps available for iOS and Android.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept any counts sent in on paper or by email, text or phone. The website will be open to receive records throughout July and August.

Celebrity backing

Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Mike Dilger and Nick Baker, Vice Presidents of Butterfly Conservation and the actress Joanna Lumley OBE have given their enthusiastic backing to the project.

Who is running the survey?

The survey is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation.

You can help Butterfly Conservation in many ways:

  • Become a member
  • Help with our other surveys
  • Donate money to help us save butterflies and moths
  • Tell your friends how to get involved

Results of past big butterfly counts

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