It is time for the Big Butterfly Count in the UK. It runs from 17th July to 9th August and the general public are asked to get involved. All you have to do is count the butterflies you see during a fifteen minute period at any sunny spot you choose. This gives an idea of the state of the environment and is a really fun and educational thing to do. I have done it twice now, downloading the identification chart from www.bigbutterflycount.org and have learnt a lot about the different species. The first time I took my dogs for a walk along a nearby track to the forest and was amazed by the amount of small brown butterflies I saw. Without the identification chart I wouldn’t have been able to tell what sort they were. Some meadow browns, speckled woods and gatekeepers that I had never identified before, with the flowers of the blackberry brambles being very attractive to them.
The second year I decided to count the butterflies in my garden. I have planted lots of butterfly and insect friendly plants in my garden, so I was hoping for a lot of different ones. However I was a little disappointed to find they were mainly peacocks, red admirals and cabbage whites with smaller amounts of commas and small tortoiseshell. (Quite a lot really, but the identification chart makes you aspire to greater things!)
Isn’t it always the case that when you want to see something it is never there! To be fair though some species and just not around at this time of year. The orange-tip flies very early, in the Spring.
The large blue is a very beautiful butterfly, but one of the rarest in the UK as its life cycle depends on the grubs of the red ant. This makes them very vulnerable.
If you are interested in butterflies and haven’t joined in with the count, have a go this year!