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The Big Butterfly Count 2017

By Angela Cole

More than 36,000 people stepped into their gardens for the Big Butterfly Count last year, and spotted almost 400,000 of the delicate creatures and day-flying moths.

They’re tiny, fluttering barometers of our environment as they react quickly to change, making them perfect biodiversity indicators. A decline in butterflies is often an early warning of other wildlife losses.

Butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers

Butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers

HOW TO TAKE PART

Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather from Friday, July 14, to Sunday, August 6.

During these dates most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens to fields and forests.

If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time, so you don’t count the same butterfly more than once. If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.

Send in your sightings online at bigbutterflycount.org or by using the free app.

The survey is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation

The small tortoiseshell is one of our most-familiar butterflies, appearing in gardens throughout the country

The small tortoiseshell is one of our most-familiar butterflies, appearing in gardens throughout the country

CREATE A BUTTERFLY HAVEN

You can add a splash of colour to your garden by attracting butterflies with nectar-rich plants that they love and that caterpillars can feed on.

Choose plants that will provide flowers throughout the season and plant in a sheltered sunny spot for maximum effect. Don’t use any pesticides as they can kill butterflies.

Plants that are good for attracting butterflies include..

? Verbena bonariensis

? Lavender

? Perennial wallflowers

? Marjoram

? Common fleabane

? Ice plant (sedum)

Butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species

Butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species

? Ivy (excellent for late season nectar)

? Primrose

? Aubretia

? Sweet rocket

? Hebe

? Thyme

? Buddleia – but these should be deadheaded after flowering to prevent seeding and promote a second round of flowering.

To find out more about Kent Wildlife Trust activities near you, go to kentwildlifetrust.org.uk

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