Citizen Science for the Big Butterfly Count


Most of our #Green18 challenge can be tackled every day in everything you do – but Step 16 is different and can get lost amongst the other 17 steps. Becoming a Citizen Scientist relies on external factors like travel and your proximity to nature, but getting stuck in sounds more difficult than it really is. In this time of constant technology and information overload, it has never been easier to reconcile science with the natural world around us. There are so many apps, websites and people out there that will help you to get involved if you do a little searching. You can hunt mermaids’ purses, watch birds, spot seagrass and, this week, you can count butterflies!


As President of Butterfly Conservation, Sir David Attenborough has just kicked off this year’s #BigButterflyCount, which aims to beat last year’s record of 60,000 participants joining together for the world’s largest butterfly count. This sort of collaboration between science and the public is so important for collecting lots of useful data from wide areas in a short amount of time. For each of us, it will only take 15 minutes but, for the scientist team that are behind the research, it will save over 15,000 hours of recording (almost 2 years of non-stop butterfly counting!). As well as helping scientists, you are also helping yourself. For one thing, getting out in nature is known to have extremely positive effects on your mental wellbeing, alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety – so there really is no excuse to avoid getting involved.

Our news editor, Kimberley, bonds with a butterfly in Berlin

Our news editor, Kimberley, bonds with a butterfly in Berlin

Why butterflies?


In the UK, there are 59 species of butterfly, with another five that have become extinct in the last 150 years. But over the last 40 years, 76% of butterfly species have declined in abundance and/or occurrence and this is primarily due to humans. These beautiful insects are vital parts of everyone’s garden ecosystems, both as their fluttering winged selves and also as caterpillars. Just like bees, they are important pollinators, especially of plants with larger flowers. They are also important for supporting predators and parasites (which are sometimes species specific!).

How do I get involved?

  • Download the free smartphone app for the Big Butterfly Count (for iOS and Android)

  • Download your free guide from the Big Butterfly Count website

  • Get outside and get counting!

It is as easy as that! Whilst you are at it, you can also take some photos of the species you spot in your garden, and share it with us and Butterfly Conservation to show us how you are getting on with your contribution to Citizen Science!

Rufus SullivanComment