Out for the count

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Are you counting? You should be because Britain’s butterflies are certainly counting on you.

This spring was been one of the hottest on record and could have had a big impact on our native species, so the results of Butterfly Conservation’s “Big Butterfly Count” are more important than ever.

Butterflies are key indicators of the health of our environment and taking part in the count will provide crucial information which could help secure the long-term future of these threatened insects.

The Big Butterfly Count runs until July 31, and taking part is easy – find a sunny place and spend just 15 minutes counting every butterfly seen and then submit sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org .

Last year’s count saw more than 10,000 people count 189,000 butterflies. The data provided vital information – revealing that Britain’s most common butterfly – the Meadow Brown had suffered a terrible year, but the Common Blue had enjoyed a fantastic summer – outshining many of our other butterfly species.

This year’s results will help reveal the impact of the record-breaking spring weather which saw drought conditions declared in many areas of southern Britain and Wales.

The hot weather prompted many species to emerge earlier than ever and the results of the count will help reveal if our butterflies are fighting back after years of long-term decline or suffering starvation as the plants they feed on wilt and die in the heat.

The count will also allow conservationists to track the progress of two much-loved garden butterflies that have suffered worrying declines in recent years.

The Small Tortoiseshell has seen its population plummet by almost 70 per cent over the last decade, and the dramatically coloured Peacock has also suffered a steep population slump.

The count is concentrating on 19 widespread species of butterflies and includes a couple of colourful day-flying moths, all of which can be identified from a downloadable chart.

So get counting.

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