James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

Citizen Science Challenge #7: Big Butterfly Count

When it comes to cool citizen science projects, you can’t beat a big fat butterfly count. I’ll be the first to admit that it can be tough to persuade people to assess the health of trees or fish around in ponds for amphibians, but butterflies really sell themselves.

Here in the UK we’re very lucky to have a whole host of well established butterfly recording schemes. There’s everything from first sightings, migrant watches, a national moth recording scheme (you have to feel sorry for them, who prefers moths to butterflies!) and the flagship BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT.

Taking place from July 20th to August 11th, up and down the country all sorts of people will be sparing 15 minutes out of their day to count butterflies. Why does it matter? Well, butterflies are excellent indicators of wider ecosystem services. Some savvy folk have described it as ‘taking the pulse of nature’.

How to Take Part:

Step 1Download the rather handsome ID chart, with all the species you are likely to see (you can even get it in Welsh and Gaelic!).

Watch the Video!

Step 2Take a look at this video, to find out more about the project

Submit Your Sightings:

Step 3Enter your results online, it couldn’t be easier! You can also look back at the 2012 results.




Have you given the Big Butterfly Count (or any of the other citizen science projects!) a go? Share your experiences with everyone else in the comments below.



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