So far, an amazing 10,000 people have joined Sir David Attenborough in taking part in the UK’s first ever big butterfly count.
You and your fellow butterfly counters have carried out over 15,000 counts and clocked up an astounding 210,000 individual butterflies and moths. Sightings are still coming in (you have until the end of August) but the main results are already clear.
The Small White and Large White topped the charts but the big surprise was the Gatekeeper, which was only just behind in third place. Although a widespread butterfly, its populations have been hard hit in recent years so the big butterfly count result indicates a turnaround in the Gatekeeper’s fortunes. Your sightings also suggest a welcome return for the Small Tortoiseshell after years of decline.
For more big butterfly count results, including the Top 10 species, please visit our big butterfly count results page.
A big butterfly count thank you!
So far, an amazing 10,000 people have taken part in the big butterfly count. You and your fellow butterfly counters have carried out over 15,000 counts and clocked up an incredible 210,000 individual butterflies and moths.
Sightings are still coming in, but the main results of the UK's first ever big butterfly count are already clear. From 24th July - 1st August 2010, a staggering 8,926 of you took part across the length and breadth of the UK, from Orkney to Scilly and Fermanagh across to Norfolk (click here to see maps). A breathtaking 187,000 individual butterflies and moths were counted!
This is the biggest ever weekly count of butterflies anywhere in the world!
Butterfly Top 10
The Small White was the most common butterfly overall, very closely followed by the Large White and the Gatekeeper. Over 29,000 of each of them were counted and it was a very close race for the top spot. Nearly half (47%) of all the butterflies and moths counted belonged to these three species! The Top 10 butterflies counted during the big butterfly count are shown below:
Most counts took place in gardens. In fact, 42% of the butterflies and moths counted were from your gardens, with another 23% from fields and 22% from other rural habitats.
The high counts of the Large and Small White butterflies comes as little surprise, as these are very common species in almost all habitats (especially gardens) and both had a good year in 2009. The outstanding performance of the Gatekeeper, on the other hand, is a very pleasing result as this butterfly has suffered a run of extremely bad years and populations were at a low ebb. 2010 has clearly been a good year for the Gatekeeper, particularly in comparison to its close relative the Meadow Brown, which is normally the more abundant by far of the two. Gatekeepers were seen in the highest numbers in fields and other rural habitats, as well as from the centres of major cities such as London and Manchester.
It was also very pleasing to see the Small Tortoiseshell in the Top 10, as this familiar butterfly has suffered a severe decline in recent years and had become a scarce sight in many parts of the UK, particularly in the south. The results of the big butterfly count suggest that it has bounced back and it was seen by many participants, particularly in gardens (where it was the 6th most common species).
The Comma and the Speckled Wood just missed out on Top 10 places on the basis of the total numbers of butterflies counted. However, these two species were frequently seen during big butterfly counts, albeit in small numbers. In fact, the Comma was the 7th most frequently seen butterfly (in all habitats), but ranked only 11th in terms of the total number seen.
Although no day-flying moths made it into the Top 10, you were busy recording them. All six of our target moths were reported, along with many others. The most common moth during big butterfly count was the Six-spot Burnet, followed by the Silver Y and then, some way behind, the Humming-bird Hawk-moth. The Six-spot Burnet came in 13th place overall, with just under 4,000 individual moths counted.