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Big Butterfly Count 2020 sees lowest numbers of butterflies recorded in 11 years

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation has today released data about the number of butterflies counted in this year’s Big Butterfly Count (17th July – 9th August 2020). Worryingly this summer’s Count has seen a reduction in the average number of butterflies logged per count of -34% in comparison with 2019 and the lowest average number of butterflies logged overall since the event began eleven years ago. In all, during this year’s Big Butterfly Count, over 1.4 million butterflies were counted across the UK. Dr Zoë Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation said: “Unfortunately, this summer has not seen an abundance of butterflies, across the UK. We do see peaks and troughs of butterfly numbers each year (last year for example we saw a huge influx of migrant Painted Lady butterflies), so the data from the Big Butterfly Count is an important snapshot which, along with our other monitoring schemes, helps our understanding of the rates of decline of butterflies and moths”. She went on to say: “Coming so shortly after the recent WWF and UN reports on the global biodiversity crisis these 2020 results illustrate the perilous state of wildlife in the UK. However, the fact that so many people take part in this exciting citizen science initiative is encouraging and makes a huge difference to our understanding of how the natural world is responding to the crisis it is in. Now we need to see initiatives both here and across the world to put nature on a path to recovery”. “The fall in butterfly numbers this summer may be due to a number of factors. An unusually warm spring led many species to emerge earlier than usual. So we may have only caught the tail-end of the flight period for many species during this year’s Big Butterfly Count. It’s important to look at butterfly trends over longer periods, so our scientists will be using these results alongside our other datasets to get a clearer understanding of what is happening." Encouragingly, 2020 also saw the highest number of butterfly sightings ever submitted by the general public with 111,628 participants submitting a record-breaking 145,249 counts this year, an increase of 25% on 2019. It seems that, in a very dark and challenging year, the opportunity for getting out into nature and helping as citizen scientists was very welcome to people who were able to participate in the Count this year. Butterfly Conservation is thrilled the event was enjoyed by so many people. In Wales 50,412 individual butterflies and moths were counted during the three-week Big Butterfly Count. A total of 5,196 counts were undertaken by 4,124 participants. While the decline of ecosystems across the world is a cause for great concern, it’s also possible to see the power of joint positive action in this year’s Big Butterfly Count. As more and more people take an interest in nature and submit their sightings Butterfly Conservation can continue its research and work to protect butterflies, moths and the environment through closer understanding of the issues they face and finding the solutions to help. Butterflies and moths are incredibly valuable indicators of the health of our environment. Their declines show not only theeffects of human behaviour on the world around us but also the changing patterns of our weather. As well as being important and beautiful creatures in themselves, they play key roles in the ecosystems of birds, mammals, invertebratesand plants as food, population controllers and pollinators. Their conservation is vitally important. Julie Williams CEO of Butterfly Conservation says: “A huge thank you to everyone who took part in the Big Butterfly Count this year. This important data is so valuable to our ongoing and vital   research helping us to understand what is happening to our butterflies and moths so we can take focused action to protect these fantastic insects and conserve them for future generations.” SPECIES RESULTS UK – BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT 2020 Big Butterfly Count 2020 UKAbundanceAve per count%Change from 20191Large White268,9252.03+44%2Small White260,4341.97+7%3Gatekeeper188,8661.43-14%4Peacock163,3511.23-42%5Meadow Brown146,2731.1-2%6Red Admiral82,5340.62-33%7Small Tortoiseshell56,1050.42-41%8Common Blue34,7620.26+9%9Ringlet34,5770.26-18%10Comma30,8560.23-29%11Green-veined White30,1270.23-33%12Speckled Wood29,9710.23-33%13Holly Blue23,5190.18+48%14Small Copper20,4230.15+40%15Brimstone11,7710.09-1%16Six-spot Burnet11,0730.08-36%17Marbled White9,0540.07-38%18Painted Lady8,3680.06-99%19Silver Y2,3600.02-70% Total1,413,34910.66-34%         SPECIES RESULTS WALES – BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT 2020 BBC 2020: WalesAbundanceAve per Count% change from 20191Large White9,0661.7480%2Small White8,0481.5517%3Meadow Brown8,0101.54-8%4Gatekeeper6,2941.21-28%5Peacock3,8560.74-62%6Red Admiral2,5990.50-55%7Small Tortoiseshell2,2240.43-50%8Speckled Wood1,9710.38-26%9Ringlet1,5590.30-6%10Common Blue1,4840.29-27%11Green-veined White1,1680.22-17%12Comma9940.19-47%13Six-spot Burnet9780.19-37%14Holly Blue7470.1480%15Small Copper6380.12-32%16Painted Lady3860.07-99%17Silver Y1500.03-52%18Brimstone1310.03-50%19Marbled White1090.02-30% Total50,4129.70-51%       Full UK and Country-specific results from the Big Butterfly Count can be accessed here.