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Chris Packham launches the Big Butterfly Count across Wales and the UK

Big Butterfly Count 2020 launches today: Has nature helped you through the last few months? It’s time to return the favour says Chris Packham

Chris Packham and wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation are launching this year’s Big Butterfly Count today as a chance for the public to give a gift back to nature this summer.

As so many of us have sought comfort, inspiration and hope through spending time in nature during the difficult last few months of lockdown, participating in the Big Butterfly Count is an easy way for us to do something positive to give back andhelp conserve nature for future generations.

The fine weather of spring 2020 has seen the earliest average emergences of butterflies for the last 20 years and Butterfly Conservation has received thousands of extra enquiries about butterfly and moth sightings made by an ever more nature-loving public.

This year’s Big Butterfly Count, Butterfly Conservation’s annual citizen science event which saw over 113,000 members of the public take part last year, is ready for its biggest year yet. The UK-wide survey simply asks you to spend 15 minutes in an outdoor space counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) you see.

There were 5,870 counts submitted in Wales for the Big Butterfly Count last year with overwhelmingly abundant numbers of Painted Lady butterflies spotted, up 2,126 (38,902 spotted) from the previous year, while Small White and Common Blue butterflies saw declines of 55% and 61% respectively.

Chris Packham says: “While so many of us have had a bit more time to appreciate the nature on our doorsteps during the lockdown period, and learning about the natural world has been a mindful distraction from uncertainty, this is a real chance to do something positive and contribute to conserving nature. Butterflies and moths are key indicators of the health of our environment and anyone can help contribute to our understanding of these incredible creatures by taking part in in the Big Butterfly Count.

“The sightings you submit will be used to map and measure populations and the geographic spread of species across the UK. We’re asking everyone who have been given a helping hand from nature this year to return the favour.”

Dr Zoë Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation said: “We’re excited to find out the results from the Big Butterfly Count this year. The very sunny spring weather meant that almost all butterfly species have emerged early thissummer, so we’re hoping for some interesting data. As our weather patterns change it’s more important than ever for us to be able capture this information.

“We’ve seen an incredible amount of interest from people who have been out and about in their gardens and local areas spotting butterflies for the first time. From children learning about the lifecycle of a butterfly from a caterpillar found in their own back gardens to adults who have spotted a fluttering Red Admiral while exercising outside instead of at the gym. Nature has really shown its true value to us this year, but it is still under threat. Now, more than ever, we must all do ourlittle bit to protect it.”

Steve Guy, Outdoor Category Director, B&Q said “We’re delighted to be supporting the Big Butterfly Count once again. We’re encouraging all B&Q customers to get counting and to create butterfly friendly outdoor spaces. Attracting butterflies is simple if you have plenty of nectar to offer them. Plant as many of their favourite flowers – such as Lavender, Delphinium and Salvia - as you can in a sunny, sheltered spot. And you don’t need a big outdoor space - a window box or hanging basket with the right nectar giving plants can make you popular with butterflies.”

David Forbes Nixon, chairman of the DFN Foundation, said: “We are excited to be the official co-sponsor of the Big Butterfly Count from 2020 to 2023 and look forward to working with Butterfly Conservation to identify trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction.”

“The recent pandemic has brought into even greater focus the need for us to protect the environment and connect with nature in a positive and meaningful way. We now have a huge opportunity to build on this momentum and engage with people of all ages across the country on the importance of butterfly conservation, helping to improve our whole environment for wildlife and enrich the lives of people now and in the future.”

The Big Butterfly Count is open to everyone, from ages from 3 to 103, and provides a real contribution to science and our understanding of butterfly and moth populations in the UK, a key indicator of the health of our environment, including the effects of climate change. Simply visit Bigbutterflycount.org to find out more or download the free Big Butterfly Count app to enter your findings.