The public is urged to join the butterfly count to help action to save species

Members of the public are urged to join a national butterfly count as experts warn time is running out to save some species.

A recent report by the wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation warned that more than two-fifths of Britain’s butterflies are in danger of extinction due to climate change, pollution and habitat loss.

But, with the right information and conservation action, species can bounce back from the brink, the charity said, and the citizen science survey it runs gives it important data on how insects are faring.

The annual Big Butterfly Count may act as an “early warning system,” helping scientists understand how environmental changes are affecting insects and collect data from areas that might otherwise go unrecorded, experts said.

And spending time in nature to observe butterflies as part of the count can be good for people’s mental health, they added.

Butterfly Conservation warned that not only rare species are threatened.

Common butterflies, which appear in the count, have seen significant declines, such as the small tortoise shell, once found in gardens across the country, which is down 79% since 1976.

Last year, people submitted 150,000 sets of results to the Big Butterfly Count, more than ever, but it also saw the lowest average number of butterflies recorded since the program began 13 years ago.

As more people participate, fewer butterflies and moths seem to be seen, and Butterfly Conservation wants to know if that trend continues in 2022.

Dr Zoe Randle, Senior Survey Officer at Butterfly Conservation, said: “Thanks to the wonderful British public, who participate by the thousands, the Big Butterfly Count is the largest natural history citizen science project involving insects in the world and gives us a valuable snapshot of what is happening with butterflies across the UK.

“It can act as an early warning system, letting us know how various environmental changes are affecting insects, and it allows us to collect vital data from places that would otherwise go unrecorded.”

He added: “We really need people’s help this year to help us figure out where our butterflies are and what we need to do to save them.”

Butterfly Conservation Ambassador Dr Amir Khan said: “Spending time in nature is hugely beneficial to our mental health.

“Spending a short amount of time in the natural world can relieve stress, and connecting with nature can help us feel happier and more energized.

“Watching butterflies for just 15 minutes can be a wonderful and relaxing experience.

“It’s good for you as well as benefiting the butterflies by helping Butterfly Conservation collect the important data they need to understand how to best protect these special insects. It’s really a win-win situation.”

To take part in the Great UK Wide Butterfly Count, people need only spend 15 minutes in an outdoor space during sunny conditions and count the types and numbers of butterflies and some moths flying during the day that they see.

This year’s count runs from July 15 to August 7 and people can learn more and get involved by visiting or by downloading the free Big Butterfly Count app.

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