The Big Butterfly Count

***Updated for 2018***

The Big Butterfly Count takes place between 20th July and 12th August and is a nationwide survey helping to assess the health of the natural environment. The Big Butterfly Count started in 2010 and has now become the world’s biggest butterfly survey where 60,400 people in 2017 participated, a 66% increase in the number of people taking part compared with 2016.

Butterflies are good health indicators of the natural ecosystem because they react quickly to environmental changes. There are 56 species of butterfly and moths in Britain and Ireland and they are under threat due to habitat loss, pollution and climate change.  The decline in numbers not only affects the survival of various species, it also indicates other wildlife losses meaning counting butterflies is a vital activity to assess biodiversity. The count is also important to help protect butterflies from extinction and to understand the effect of climate change on wildlife. 

The Big Butterfly Count survey asks participants to count the number of butterflies and moths spotted in 15 minutes during a bright, sunny day. Records are accepted from a variety of locations including school fields and gardens, parks and forests; so what better way to end your school term on a high or give your children a fun outdoor activity for the summer holidays!

You can take part by downloading the big butterfly count identification charts to help you identify the butterflies or moths you are spotting. You can also find an identification chart of garden butterflies here. Once you have recorded the species you have sighted then you submit your sightings online or via the Big Butterfly Count app throughout July and August. You can enter as many times as you like but it is recommended you go to different locations to hunt for the insects.

The data from the survey is then uploaded to a results map and analysed to produce a summary; you can find the 2017 results summary here. The data gathered by the count is used by the Government to indicate the health of the UK and the European environment so by taking part you will be helping conservation efforts and protect butterflies for generations to come. 

If you are looking for other family friendly activities over the summer holidays then check out our list of things to do in Kent.

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