If you’re in Britain, Butterfly Conservation invites you to take part in this year’s Big Butterfly Count. This will be fun. Also it will be useful because butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) tell us what’s happening on the land. That is, they’re great indicator species.
Our butterflies are in a bad way. The BBC’s Nature Notes pages tell us that UK butterfly numbers are at a historic low. No doubt this is partly due to the last year’s weird weather. But there are longer-term declines too, for example the small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae).
The Big Butterfly Count is only supposed to take 15 minutes. I think I’ll do it in my back garden. The easy identification chart looks useful. They’re not asking us to identify a lot of rare species, just the ones we’re likely to see. If I’m lucky I might see a small tortoiseshell.
As you know, I’m learning about Lepidoptera with support from my fellow blogger Finn Holding at The Naturephile. Also several other ecologists and gardeners whose blogs I follow, including Mike Dilger at The Garden Smallholder. I’m grateful to Mike for announcing the Big Butterfly Count. You can watch a film of him on the Big Butterfly Count website. Across the Pond, I’m grateful to Sandy Steinman at Natural History Wanderings for pointing out how British butterflies are important to watch.