Butterfly lover? Then get out into the garden and take part in this nationwide survey

A small copper butterfly. Submitted to launch a nation-wide Garden Butterfly Survey.

A small copper butterfly. Submitted to launch a nation-wide Garden Butterfly Survey. - Credit: Archant

Butterflies will soon be fluttering around our gardens – and households in our region are being encouraged to identify and count them for a nation-wide survey that gets under way today.

While their numbers may have declined over the years, a charity which protects the creatures and their environment is trying to learn more about an important element of the wildlife on our doorsteps.

Results from the Garden Butterfly Survey will then be used to map out butterfly trends, numbers and geographical distribution across the country.

The data will also help experts better understand the kinds of plants and flowers butterflies are attracted to in our gardens.

Judy Dunmore, chairman of the Norfolk branch of Butterfly Conservation said: 'We are seeing a general decline in the numbers of butterflies. Even 15 years ago there were more around but their numbers seem to be going down and down.

'The survey is important because we know little about the butterflies in our own gardens. From the results we can record details about the specific species and what kind of habitat it prefers in our gardens, including the plants and flowers.

She added: 'It's also a wonderful family activity and an opportunity to get the children outside – I'm certainly looking forward to getting my grandchildren involved with this as well.'

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In Norfolk, soon the stunning colours of the Orange-tip butterfly will be fluttering around in the sunshine. Other common visitors are the Small Tortoiseshell and the Peacock. Later in the year, the classic Red Admiral and Painted Lady will be seen more often.

Andy Brazil, who records butterfly numbers across the county, said: 'Although overall numbers appear to be declining, each species appears to have its own individual cycles.

'While some are declining, others are actually making a comeback or moving to a different part of the country – it will be fascinating to discover what the survey reveals.'

• How to get involved

The Garden Butterfly Survey aims to learn more about the butterflies visiting gardens over the course of a year.

Households are asked to make a note of the species, how many are present and at what time of year they are seen.

Participants will log their results through a simple online platform.

Gardens should be checked at least once a month during reasonable weather. When the butterflies are being counted, the maximum number of each species present at the time should be noted.

Remember that butterflies are very active – so try not to count the same one more than once!

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