At the beginning of summer, I posted about the Big Butterfly Count which was held throughout July and August to gain an understanding of the health of our environment. I took part and recorded a handful of species so was interested to see what other people had spotted when the results were recently released.
Despite the weather being poor this summer, resulting in relatively scarce numbers of butterflies, the number of participants for the survey was extremely high! It has been reported that over 60,400 people took part – an increase of 66% compared to the 2016 count, which I think is absolutely fantastic!! Because of this, 62,547 counts were submitted (a 64% increase on the previous year), meaning the environmental health assessment and protection plans have been helped greatly.
There were 20 target butterfly and moth species in the 2017 Big Butterfly Count and the results can be found on the website (and are as follows):
|Abundance||% change from 2016|
The species with the highest abundance this year was the Gatekeeper. The Comma and Common Blue also both did very well with a 90% and 109% increase compared to 2016 respectively. However, the species I was most interested in finding out about was the Red Admiral. I did not count any during my survey, but saw many during September and even October (so far) in different parts of the UK, more than I recall seeing before in fact, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that “numbers of this powerful, migratory butterfly soared during 2017″, and it recorded its best ever Big Butterfly Count performance!
© Red Admiral, September 2017
Whilst several species increased compared to last year’s numbers, there were of course some that did not do so well. Counts of the three common ‘whites’ all decreased along with several others including the Ringlet and Large Skipper. The least counted species from the target list was the Silver Y moth which saw a decrease of -2%.
With the high overall count and mixed results, it is important to remember that butterflies in the UK are still under threat from both human and natural factors. Intensive farming, pesticides and urbanisation have all contributed to the loss of butterfly habitat, whilst summers over the last 10 years have been relatively and increasingly damper, which is not the best condition for butterflies and moths as it impacts their food sources and breeding. This knowledge and growing awareness however, should hopefully encourage more and more people to take part in this important annual survey and ultimately build up a bigger picture of the health of our environment.
If you would like to see what species were spotted in your area, you can view the results map here.