Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

The Big Butterfly Count

Peacock butterfly John Notman/ WSBRC

It’s no secret that British Butterflies are in trouble; 76% of the UK’s butterfly species have declined in some way since 1976. The declines are being seen across all species groups; whether migrant or resident, specialist or generalist. The factors that are driving the decline of the generalist species are not well understood. However it is widely accepted that changes to habitats as a result of land-use change is causing the decline in the more specialist species.

As the climate changes further it is likely that there will be greater challenges for butterfly populations, research has shown that warmer climates will not necessarily benefit more southerly distributed species. It is likely that many species of butterfly will undergo changes to populations and distributions in the future.

Wiltshire is arguably one of the best counties in the UK for butterflies, with 45 of the 60 resident and migrant species having been recorded here. The mosaic of habitats throughout the county enables a rich diversity of species to survive, ranging from the splendid Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) to the declining and rare High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe). Many of the more familiar species, such as the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) can be found across the county.

As with any species or group that is declining, it is important that we can monitor and map the changes in abundance and distribution. This is where the Big Butterfly Count comes in. Launched in 2010, this citizen science project encourages you to spend 15 minutes looking for 18 common species of butterfly and 2 day flying moths. In 2015 580,000 individual butterflies and moths were counted by 52,000 participants. Sightings can then be submitted online or using the Big Butterfly Count app. In addition to this any records of butterflies, whether part of the Big Butterfly Count or not can be submitted to WSBRC online via Living Record or by using our recording form.

Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count is a simple way to help monitor and protect the Butterflies of Great Britain. The survey runs from 15th July to 7th August.


More information on the Big Butterfly Count can be found on their website

To sign up and use Living record click here

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