Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The Big Butterfly Count 2018

This summer has already brought us more sunshine than we Brits are used to, but that's not the only good thing. The ferocious cold snap we endured back in March, combined with the now settled weather we have been experiencing for the last couple of months, has created the right conditions for butterflies to flourish!

Beginning 20 July, The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey organised by the Butterfly Conservation, that's aimed at helping to asses the health of the environment, encouraging us to spend 15 minutes at a time – whether that be daily, weekly, or whenever you can – counting butterflies, and submitting the sightings online. 

This time of year is the optimum time to hold this survey, because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, and so are more likely to be seen. 

So, why is it important to count butterflies?

These insects react very quickly to changes in their environment, which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. A decline in butterfly numbers is an early warning sign for other wildlife losses. It can be viewed as even more of a crucial practice this year, because if the hot conditions continue and create a drought, the results could be catastrophic: plants will wither and all manner of insects will die due to lack of food.

Likened to taking the pulse of nature, counting butterflies can assist in identifying trends in species that can aid the Butterfly Conservation in planning how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as gain a better understanding of the effects of climate change on wildlife. 

And it's not just the ecosystem that can benefit from this activity. The mental health charity Mind says that spending time in nature can help alleviate human problems such as depression and anxiety. 

As President of the Butterfly Conservation, Sir David Attenborough actively encourages the public to take part in the Big Butterfly Count, saying that spending time with nature offers "precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life."

The Big Butterfly count officially runs from 20 July to 12 August, but that doesn't mean you have to stop looking out for these wonderful insects when it ends. Whether you head to the local park, walk along your favourite woodland trek, or are simply spending an afternoon in the garden, get counting those butterflies!

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