Counting butterflies is now a serious business, thanks to four poor years in a row seeing numbers of many common UK species in decline.
A number of Big Butterfly Count events are taking place in Scotland in the coming weeks, and one of the venues is Paxton House on Sunday, July 30, from 10.30am to noon.
The butterfly count at Paxton House is part of a moth-themed walk through the grounds with expert Barry Prater, so as well as counting butterflies, those taking part will also be checking the contents of moth traps and enjoying fun craft activities. It costs £1 per child and £2 per adult.
David Attenborough, Butterfly Conservation’s president, warns that UK butterflies face a critical summer.
“The next few weeks are a vital period for our butterflies,” said Sir David. “They need to make the most of this chance to feed and breed.
“Last year, despite a warm summer, butterflies like the small tortoiseshell, peacock, meadow brown and gatekeeper saw their numbers fall as a warm winter and cold spring earlier in the year led to problems that affected their numbers later on.
“Worryingly, we are now seeing the fortunes of some of our once-common butterflies mirror those of our rarest species, and they too are now also suffering significant declines, with butterflies declining more rapidly in urban areas than in the countryside.
“Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count is good for butterflies, and it is also good for us all. The count is good for butterflies because your sightings will tell us which species need help and in which areas we need to help them.
“But the Big Butterfly Count is also good for you because 15 minutes spent watching butterflies in the summer sunshine is priceless. It lifts the spirits and reinvigorates that sense of wonder in the natural world.”
The count runs until August 6. To take part, find a sunny spot, spend 15 minutes counting butterflies, then submit sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.