Over 50,000 of us braved the dismal weather over much of the UK this summer to take part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, spotting almost 600,000 of the enchanting insects. The annual event is the largest insect citizen science survey in the world and assesses the health of the nation’s butterflies and moths in their environment.
Results were better than expected, with the gatekeeper and large white butterflies topping this summer’s survey. Despite the wet weather, more butterflies were recorded for over half the butterfly species being monitored compared with results in 2014. But total numbers were not so positive, with the average number of butterflies counted per person fewer than last year. This may have been due to the summer weather, as butterflies prefer warm, sunny days.
It has been an especially good year for a number of species, including the gatekeeper, which saw a 17% increase in numbers counted; the large white which saw a 46% rise, and the holly blue with a massive 151% increase since 2014.
However, losers include the peacock and small tortoiseshell, which both decreased by 50%, and the red admiral and speckled wood, whose numbers saw decreases of 25%.
Here are the top ten most counted butterflies in descending order.
1. Gatekeeper (106,995 seen)
2. Large white (83,042)
3. Meadow brown (76,713)
4. Small white (72,483)
5. Peacock (42,754)
6. Small tortoiseshell (31,322)
7. Ringlet (27,604)
8. Red admiral (21,027)
9. Comma (18,765)
10. Common blue (17,932)
See the Butterfly Conservation website for a full list of the 2015 Big Butterfly Count results, where you can also find the results by country.
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