People in south England and Wales are being asked to keep an eye out for a very striking day-flying moth, as part of this year’s Big Butterfly Count.
Butterfly Conservation’s annual three-week citizen science project, the Big Butterfly Count, is well underway, and over 100,000 butterfly counts have already been recorded.
With another week of butterfly counting left to go, butterfly experts are asking people in England and Wales to keep looking for butterflies and moths and ensuring they record what they see.
One species that has been added to the Big Butterfly Count list this year is the Jersey Tiger, which is a particularly striking day-flying moth being seen in increasing numbers across the south of the UK, including in London.
Dr Zoë Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation, explains: “The Jersey Tiger moth flies during the day as well as at night and is often confused for a butterfly because of its beautiful colours and patterns. These moths have been well-established along the south coast of England but are moving further north and are now found in increasing numbers across southern England and Wales. As a result, the Jersey Tiger appears on the Big Butterfly Count identification chart for the first time, and we’ve seen many reports coming in of people spotting them.”
The adult Jersey Tiger can be found flying on warm days and visiting flowers such as Buddleia. They also fly at night and like gardens, rough and disturbed ground, hedgerows, coastal cliffs and higher parts of beaches.
Butterflies and moths make excellent indicators of the impacts of climate change and other human environmental factors. This makes collecting data on their numbers through the Big Butterfly Count really important. With another week of the Big Butterfly Count left to run, there is still time for people to take part and contribute to one of the UK’s largest citizen science projects.
The Big Butterfly Count is in its 12th year and is Butterfly Conservation’s annual three-week citizen science event. The UK-wide survey is open to everyone, of any age, living in towns, cities or the countryside. Taking part requires you to spend 15-minutes in any outdoor space (a great staycation activity) counting the amount and type of butterflies and some day-flying moths you see. It is easy to do and the more people who do it, the greater the benefits to our understanding of nature and how to help it. It’s easy to upload the results either through the free app or via www.bigbutterflycount.org.
You can do as many 15-minute counts as you like throughout the Big Butterfly Count period – which runs until Sunday 8th August. Dr Randle is keen to remind people that it’s important to upload the results, even if you don’t see any butterflies. She says: “Negative data is important too. If you are in a place you would expect to see butterflies and there aren’t any, or there are only one or two, we need to know that. It all helps us with creating a clear picture of what is happening to our butterflies and moths. By taking part in the Big Butterfly Count you are making a real contribution to science and our understanding of how climate change and habitat loss are affecting these species.”