Big Butterfly Count

Butterflies and moths are more than just fascinating insects – their sensitivity to our environment makes them an excellent indicator.  With almost half of Britain’s butterflies being in decline, Butterfly Conservation and Marks & Spencer have teamed up to try to save these beautiful creatures.

UK Speckled Wood ButterflyAs part of the leading conservation group and retailer’s efforts, people across Britain will be counting butterflies this summer in The Big Butterfly Count.  For 15 minutes during sunny weather from July 24th through August 1st, Britishers are to count the number of species and members of species in their garden, and then report the number online to the organizers.  Participants can download a butterfly chart to help them identify species , and their numbers will be taken as an indicator.  This is likely one of the largest public trust-based conservation initiatives ever undertaken in Britain.

Blue ButterflyMeanwhile, Butterfly Conservation is providing support to Marks & Spencers farmers to promote the health of butterflies on their farms.  Over three-quarters of UK butterflies and moths depend on farmland, and birds and other wildlife depend on caterpillars for food.  Their loss would result in a reduction of some crop yields.  Butterfly–friendly recommendations include leaving some tall, uncut areas within the grass margins immediately alongside the hedgerow to allow for young butterflies to successfully survive the winter.  Also, re-seeding grass margins with a simple wildflower/grass mix is advised.

UK Red Admiral ButterflySir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, has suggested that these activities will help reverse the declines in the butterfly population.

Marks & Spencers will also launch a range of new butterfly adorned accessories to help raise awareness among the general public.  These efforts are part of the company’s overall Plan A, launched in January 2007, which has the ultimate goal of becoming our world’s most sustainable major retailer.

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