Peacock by Ian Plume

Each year the wonderful organisation Butterfly Conservation run a Big Butterfly Count

Butterfly Conservation is an organisation the focuses on the conservation of butterflies and moths. Each year, since 2010, they have been running the Big Butterfly Count - a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of the environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world's biggest survey of butterflies. Over 100,000 people took part in 2018, submitting 97,133 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK. 

Butterflies are a great indicator of the overall state of nature - they very quickly change to their environment making them a great indicator. The count also helps Butterfly Conservation identify trends in species that will help them save the butterfly population.

How to take part

Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather during the big butterfly count - 19 July-11 August. This time of year is chosen because 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.

Go to to download a handy id chart and get more information. 

You can send in your sightings online at or by using their FREE big butterfly count smartphone apps available.

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The other day at Rainham John Ferguson saw:

Gatekeeper (he counted 193!), small white, small skipper, Essex skipper, large skipper, peacock, meadow brown, green veined-white, large white, small heath, brown argus, marbled white, red admiral and small tortoiseshell all on the River Wall.

He also saw small white, ringlet, peacock, gatekeeper, comma, red admiral, speckled wood, small skipper, meadow brown, small tortoiseshell and large skipper around the main trail!

Marbled white by John Ferguson

Comma by Ian Plume

Red admiral by Ian Plume

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You can pop into the shop to buy a butterfly id book, or butterfly care items.

Did you know you can help butterflies at home - keep hold of your old black, mushy bananas!

Squidge an old banana between your fingers, without breaking the skin - you’ll feel it go to mush inside. Using a knife, nick three or four small cuts across the upper side of the banana. Put it outside in a sunny, sheltered position at about chest height, somewhere where butterflies are likely to find it and ideally near flowers and vegetation.


Many butterflies like a sweet boost to help them stay fit and healthy during the autumn, and some need the energy to see them into hibernation. 

As a mushy banana gradually ferments and oozes in the sunshine, red admiral, painted lady and comma butterflies should find it. When they do, they’re likely to stay for hours and then return day after day for the juicy treat.

Be aware that  wasps and hornets may also visit your banquet, though they will be interested in the banana rather than you. If you get too many, it might be time the banana went in the compost heap instead!


It's really only in autumn that butterflies are likely to take advantage of your feast.

Making a butterfly banquet is part of the Give Nature a Home in your garden plan - to find out more about how you can help wildlife at home go to: