Count will assess impact of disastrous spring for butterflies

Red Admiral butterfly

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation says species including the red admiral have been hit by the unseasonably cold and wet spring weather - Credit: Nat Ngo/Butterfly Conservation/PA Wire 

People across East Anglia have been urged to help count the UK's beleaguered butterflies, which have struggled in disastrous spring weather.

The Big Butterfly Count, run by nature charity Butterfly Conservation, aims to provide vital research into the impacts of climate change on wildlife.

The annual count, which takes place over the next three weeks, comes in the wake of an unseasonably cold and wet spring, which has hit butterfly populations.

Butterfly Conservation said there have been particularly low numbers of speckled wood butterflies, while small tortoiseshells, commas, green-veined whites, large whites and red admirals are also down on their 10-year average.

Though April was the sunniest on record, it was also cold, with a record number of frosts, while May was the wettest for 50 years.


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The charity said it needs the public's help to measure the impact, and is asking people to join the count by spending 15 minutes in an outdoor space, counting the number and type of butterflies, and some day-flying moths.

Wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham, who is vice-president of Butterfly Conservation, said: "Because butterflies and moths make excellent indicators of the impacts of climate change and other human environmental factors, collecting data on their numbers is really important.

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"So, something as simple as recording a butterfly spotted in your garden, at your local park or on your window box can play a part in vital research into a global problem. It's a really valuable contribution everyone can make."

Dr Zoe Randle, senior surveys officer at Butterfly Conservation, added: "We really need the public's help to understand what is happening to our butterfly and moth populations. It's a small but crucial thing everyone can do.

"This information will not only help us to protect these species, but also to inform what effect the changing climate is having on our biodiversity."

The 2021 Big Butterfly Count runs nationwide from July 16 to August 8. For more information visit bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org or download the free Big Butterfly Count app.

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