Take part in the Big Butterfly Count

Help Butterfly Conservation assess the health of our environment by spotting butterflies and moths from 12 July to 4 August.
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Butterflies are beautiful - but as a key 'indicator species' they're also brilliant at taking the pulse of nature. Along with bird, bee and bat numbers, they can reveal to us how our local and national environments are changing.

From July 12 to August 4, Butterfly Conservation will be asking you to count how many butterflies and day flying moths you see in your growing space. You just need to spot them for 15 minutes and record them on the map via the free app or online.

The Big Butterfly Count is the largest citizen-science project of its kind and contributes to important scientific data collection. Sadly, long-term trends reveal that since the Big Butterfly Count started 13 years ago many species have significantly decreased.

One of the biggest threats butterflies face is habitat loss - so try planting some of these flowers to encourage more butterflies into your garden and help them feed, breed and shelter.

Best flowers for butterflies

  • Red admiral – mainly common nettle (Urtica dioica).
  • Peacock – mainly common nettle (Urtica dioica)
  • Brimstone – buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica); alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus).
  • Painted lady – thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.); mallows (Malva spp.); common nettle (Urtica dioica), viper’s-bugloss (Echium vulgare)
  • Comma – common nettle (Urtica dioica); hop (Humulus lupulus); elm (Ulmus spp.)
  • Green-veined white – many plants including garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata); cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis); hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale); watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum); charlock (Sinapis arvensis); large bittercress (C. amara); wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea); wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum); nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus).
  • Small tortoiseshell – mainly common nettle (Urtica dioica)
  • Large white – mainly cultivated cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli etc (Brassica oleracea); oil seed rape (Brassica napus); nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus); wild mignonette (Reseda lutea); sea kale (Crambe maritima)
  • Small white – mainly cultivated cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli etc (Brassica oleracea); nasturtium (Tropaeoleum majus)
  • Orange-tip (rarer in gardens) – cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis); garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • Speckled wood – false brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum); cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata); Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus); common couch (Elytrigia repens)
  • Meadow brown – grasses including fescues (Festuca spp); bents (Agrostis spp); meadow-grasses (Poa spp); cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata); downy oat-grass (Helictotrichon pubescens); false brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum).
  • Small copper – common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and sheep’s sorrel (R. acetosella) are the main foodplants. Broad-leaved dock (R. obtusifolius) may be occasionally used
  • Holly blue – many shrubs including holly (Ilex aquifolium); ivy (Hedera helix); spindle (Euonymus europaeus); dogwoods (Cornus spp); snowberries (Symphoricarpos spp); gorse (Ulex spp); bramble (Rubus fruticosus)
  • Common blue – mainly common bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus); greater bird’s-foot trefoil (L. pedunculatus); black medick (Medicago lupulina); common restharrow (Ononis repens); white clover (Trifolium repens); lesser trefoil (T. dubium).