Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Big Butterfly Count 2015

Between the 17th of July and the 9th of August, people all over the country counted butterflies for periods of 15 minutes. This citizen science is backed by The Butterfly Conservation people. This year’s results can be found on the web site.  

Me, counting butterflies, notebook in hand.
I was pleased with the results I got in 2014 but this year was so much better.
  • 2014: 10 counts, 10 species of butterfly, 66 records
  • 2015: 12 counts, 13 species of butterfly, 108 records as well as some moths.
Although I've done more counts, the average number of butterflies per count is 9 compared to 6.6 last year. All the numbers in this post are for butterflies only, although the moths were pretty and interesting too.
Attractive 6 spot burnet moth.
Here is a graph showing how many butterflies I recorded.

Butterflies recorded during 12 counts in our Uckfield garden.
The top three species were the same as last year:
1. Gatekeepers, which took an even more commanding lead than before
2. Meadow Brown
3. Large White.

Meadow Browns mating.
Otherwise, there were some differences. Last year, Ringlets and Small Tortiseshells were in the top 6. This year, I had no Ringlets and only one Small Tortiseshell. On the other hand, Red Admirals had held their position in the rankings.

Small Tortiseshell.
In both years, I saw one common blue butterfly. It has become less common over the last few years due to the reduction of habitats suitable for its food plant, bird's-foot trefoil. I've often found this little character clinging to a flower first thing in the morning. It is very hard to persuade it to let go of its perch. Most of the blues we see are Holly Blues.

Holly Blue.
Then I read an article about Commas, which explained that they had adapted to the decline in their formerly favourite food plant, hop, by feeding on nettles.This got me thinking about caterpillar food plants. Next year, I will be looking out for caterpillars on the following plants.

Food TypeButterflies
Meadow Brown
Small Skipper
Speckled Wood
 BrassicasLarge White
Small White
Nettle, hopComma
Red Admiral
Small Tortiseshell
Bird's-foot trefoilCommon blue
Six spot burnet
BrimstoneBuckthorn, Alder Buckthorn
Holly BlueHolly, Ivy, Dogwood, Gorse

No comments:

Post a Comment