Big Butterfly Count results: a worrying decline
The Gatekeeper was the most spotted butterfly in this year's Big Butterfly Count, but the overall results show a worrying decline of butterflies across the UK
The results are in for this year's Big Butterfly Count, which ran from 15 July to 7 August.
Almost 100,000 counts were submitted to this year's nationwide survey, a citizen science project that helps wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation better understand the UK's butterfly population.
The results are good news for the Gatekeeper, which was the most spotted butterfly in this year's Big Butterfly Count, and the Common Blue and Holly Blue, which had their worst results in 2021 but saw an increase this year. But overall the the trend for butterflies across the UK remains a declining one, with results showing an average of just under nine butterflies spotted per count. This is an all-time low in the 13 years since the citizen science project began.
Among butterfly species that have seen a decline since last year's count are the Red Admiral (pictured), Small White and Meadow Brown.
According to the Head of Science for Butterfly Conservation, Dr Richard Fox, the decline in sightings despite the sunny weather during the survey is worrying: "The fact that more butterflies weren’t seen is concerning and it’s clear that much more needs to be done to protect and restore habitats to aid nature recovery. The sun could shine for days on end, but we still won’t see more butterflies unless there is habitat for them to thrive in.”
Creating butterfly habitats
Dr Zoe Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation, shared her advice for attracting more butterflies to our gardens: “We can create habitat for butterflies such as the Holly Blue and Comma in our gardens, by cultivating holly and flowering ivy for the former and growing hop, elms and nettles for the latter. Gardens that are wildlife friendly can provide vital habitat for these insects, allowing them space to feed, breed and shelter.”
Next year’s Big Butterfly Count will take place from 14 July to 6 August 2023. Read our guide to the best butterfly friendly plants you can grow to attract more butterflies to your garden next summer.
Abigail is a freelance writer and editor based in Hereford.