Friday, August 06, 2021

The Big Butterfly Count

So far over a million butterflies have been counted in this year's Big Butterfly Count. Every year in the UK the Butterfly Conservation organization asks the public to take part in a national survey into the health of the UK's butterfly species by spending 15 minutes counting butterflies. This year's Big Butterfly Count is from the 16th July to the 8th August.

Since 1976 76% of UK butterfly species have declined in either occurrence or abundance. This is of concern both for the health of these butterfly species but also for other wildlife species and the overall environment. It is therefore important to continue to monitor the health and abundance of the UK's different species of butterfly. 

You can view the progress of the Big Butterfly Count for yourself on the project's interactive map. Using the Big Butterfly Count map you can explore the butterfly sightings submitted by citizen scientists across the UK. You can filter the butterflies by species and by date to view where and when different butterflies have been spotted across the country. So far this year the Small White has been the most common species of butterfly reported to the map. Closely followed by the Big White and the Meadow Brown.

The Big Butterfly Count is a fantastic example of the advances being made in lepidopterology. Unfortunately the earliest lepidopterist were not so humane in their surveying methodology. In the early days of lepidopterology the main way to study and categorize butterflies was through capturing and pinning examples of butterfly species. 

This practice is evident on the Natural History Museum's Big Butterfly Count map. This interactive map shows the locations of a selection of the digitized butterfly and moth specimens in the Natural History Museum's collection. If yo click on a marker on this map you can view a picture of the butterfly collected from this location and click through to read more about the species and the date of its collection.

No comments: