Tag Archive for: butterflies

Little Citizen Scientists Wanted for the Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly Count is free, enjoyable, educational, and hugely worthwhile for children and families to take part in.Calling all little citizen scientists — we need your help — and parents too! During part of July and early August the Big Butterfly Count takes place across the UK and the more children and families that take part, the better. All it needs to take is 15 minutes and taking part will help butterflies, daytime-flying moths and the conservation of nature and biodiversity in general. What’s more, it’s a free, enjoyable, educational, and hugely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in. In today’s post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to take part in 2024’s Big Butterfly Count. Little citizen scientists: get ready!

The Big Butterfly Count 2024

Starts: Friday 12th July
Ends: Sunday 4th August

What is the Big Butterfly Count All About?

The Big Butterfly Count is the world’s largest survey of butterflies. It takes place in Britain each year during the period when adult butterflies and daytime-flying moths are at their most prolific and active. These wonderful creatures are sadly threatened, with UK populations of many having plummeted over the last few decades.

“Right now, butterflies and moths are sending an SOS” (Butterfly Conservation)

The giant ‘citizen’ survey therefore aims to keep tabs on populations of particular species each year so that any changes in their numbers can be identified and any adverse issues affecting them identified. Only then can appropriate conservation measures be implemented to help them recover.

In addition, because butterflies and daytime-flying moths suffer from the same threats as other pollinators and wildlife (climate change, use of indiscriminate pesticides, habitat loss, etc.), trends in their populations can be used as a barometer for the state of wildlife, biodiversity, and nature in general.

So, if you and your little one(s) would like to take part and become citizen scientists, read on and we’ll explain the easy process of taking part.

“One of the great things about the Big Butterfly Count is that anyone can play their part, whether young or old.”

What You’ll Need

Families can use either the free app or ID sheet to identify butterflies and daytime-flying moths they spot.You’ll need a tiny bit of preparation, but it’s quick, free, and easy…



  • For families with smartphones or tablets, download and use the Big Butterfly Count app — it’s free and also includes instructions and all the identification charts, links, and useful information you or your child will need to complete the task.

Download the 'Big Butterfly Count' app for IOS Download the 'Big Butterfly Count' app for Android

The butterfly identification sheet for England for 2024's Big Butterfly Count

Choose a Location for your Butterfly Count

Before commencing your own butterfly count, you’ll need to identify a suitable location in which to do so. That could be your garden, local park, somewhere in the countryside, or simply somewhere like a hedgerow. Wherever it is, it will need to have flowers in bloom in order to attract butterflies and/or daytime-flying moths. And, of course, it needs to be safe, with any little ones having suitable adult supervision.

The Best Places to Spot Butterflies

You/your little one will want the best chance of spotting butterflies during the Big Butterfly Count. With that in mind, the following types of locations are likely to have the greatest potential for success:

  • Places where there are lots of flowers, blooms, or wildflowers;
  • A sunny location that’s also sheltered from the wind;
  • Flower meadows and anywhere with brambles;
  • Clearings in forests where wildflowers are growing;
  • Areas with long grass if they contain wildflowers;
  • Hedgerows that contain wildflowers;
  • Glades or forest clearings where a wide variety of trees and plants can be found at different developmental stages;
  • The middle of the day is often a great time to see butterflies.

How to Do Your Butterfly Count

Over the course of 15 minutes, count the butterflies and daytime-flying moths that are included on the ID chart or smartphone app.Once you’ve chosen a suitable location that has flowers blooming and is ideally sunny and sheltered, you are ready to count butterflies and submit them to the Big Butterfly Count survey.

Over the course of 15 minutes, count the butterflies (and daytime-flying moths) that are included on the ID chart or smartphone app (only about 21 of the possible 60+ species are targeted in the Big Butterfly Count*). You/your child can log your sightings either directly in the app or by marking them on your butterfly ID printout. Don’t worry if you don’t see any at all within the 15-minute window — that counts in the survey too.

* If you/your child would like to identify and log butterfly and moth species not included in the Big Butterfly Count, you can do so using an alternative smartphone app, iRecord Butterflies, which you can use any time of year.


You can either stay in one spot or walk while counting during your 15-minute slot.

  • If staying in one spot, you need to count how many of each targeted species you see at the same time. That’s so as to avoid counting the same butterfly more than once.
  • If walking during your 15 minutes, it’s far less likely that you’ll encounter the same butterfly more than once. Therefore, you can simply count up how many of each species you see during the 15-minute walk.

You can do as many 15-minute surveys as you like within the survey dates. Each can be submitted as a separate survey, along with the date and location for each.

See the Results!

Once you and your child have counted and submitted your results, you are officially Citizen Scientists! Well done! We hope it was fun and interesting as well as being a good thing to do to help the adorable butterflies, moths, and conservation of the natural world itself.

If you’re wondering what the results of the thousands of citizen scientist surveys across the UK are, you can check these out on this interactive map or the equivalent map available through the Big Butterfly Count smartphone app. You will have to wait until the results are available, i.e. for 2024 this will be from the 5th of August. Once available, you’ll be able to see counts and details of what was spotted in all areas of the UK. Try zooming in on your own area, which will include your own survey(s) within the data presented.

Other Ways Children Can Help Butterflies

Children and families can help butterflies in other simple ways too.In addition to taking part in the Big Butterfly Count, children and families can help butterflies in other simple ways too. What’s more, they’re also fun, educational, and make the world a better place. Additional ways to help butterflies – and other pollinators – include:

  • Sowing wildflowers in gardens and outdoor spaces;
  • Making gardens and outdoor spaces more wildlife-friendly;
  • Putting out pieces of overripe fruit (apples, oranges, bananas) and shallow dishes of water for them to sip at;
  • Refraining from using harmful chemicals in gardens (e.g. pesticides, weedkillers, slug and snail killer, etc.);
  • Keeping gardens ‘natural’ — e.g. avoiding replacing lawns with fake grass, mowing too often, or paving over areas that can be kept natural.

Nature & Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham is perfectly located for children’s involvement in the Big Butterfly Count and for being close to nature. That’s important, because nature is incredibly beneficial to children — and adults, of course. Nearby are parks, hills, waterways and the gorgeous Lancashire countryside. And, at our Padiham nursery itself, we have a lovely garden with a wild zone for children to explore. These areas allow children to get close to nature in a safe, supervised, environment. They also support the nursery’s tailored curriculum including any specific areas of interest for children under our care.

Consider a nursery place for your child at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham today. Here, they will get the very best start in a nurturing, homely environment where we will bring out the very best in them. Choose an option to get started:

Our location in Padiham, Lancashire, means that our nursery is also near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Butterfly Spotting Activity for Kids (with Free Poster!)

With more adult butterflies around than at any other time in the year, late July and early August is a perfect time for children to get outdoors to see them.At the time of writing, it’s peak butterfly-spotting time — more adult butterflies can be seen in late July and early August than at any other time in the year. That makes it the perfect time for children to get out in nature to spot these charming creatures. Doing so is fun, educational and also beneficial in so many ways – we’ll explain more about that later.

Fun Fact: About 60 different types of butterflies can be found in the UK.

Butterflies come in many different forms and sizes, often with incredibly beautiful patterns and colours on their wings. They are also rather endearing as they flit around on seemingly haphazard flight paths. As such, infants, toddlers and young children will naturally be drawn to them when they see them flying around flowers, gardens and hedgerows. With that in mind, we have designed a free butterfly identification poster for families to download. It features 36 different types of butterflies that are commonly seen around large parts of the UK. The poster can be printed out for children to display on bedroom or nursery walls, or for use as a hand-held reference when out and about on butterfly-spotting nature trips. Take a look at the preview below — full instructions for printing it out or viewing it on screen are explained below the preview. The poster is free to download and you do not need to sign up for anything, nor register in any way.

Butterfly Poster Preview

The preview image below shows the 36 wonderful butterflies that are included on the identification poster. However, be sure to download the Acrobat PDF version for greater clarity and detail.

Preview of the Butterfly Spotting Activity Poster for children to download.

Download Instructions

Depending on your specific device and browser settings, the high-resolution Adobe Acrobat version of the poster can be viewed and/or downloaded by left- or right-clicking the preview image above, or alternatively use this link. If you do not already have it on your device, Acrobat Reader can be downloaded for free.


Amazing Fact: The Painted Lady butterfly flies all the way from Europe or Africa, travelling thousands of miles, before arriving in the UK for the summer. When travelling, they fly up to 100 miles per day, travelling almost 30 miles per hour. Unlike some other butterflies, Painted Ladies do not hibernate in Britain, instead migrating back to Europe or northern Africa.

Butterfly Spotting Has Many Benefits

The Benefits of Butterfly Spotting to Children

Butterfly spotting is a delightful and almost magical activity for children to take part in. On a simple level, it’ll help children learn the names of different butterflies and open their eyes to some of the UK’s wonderful wildlife. On a deeper level, though, it’s hugely educational by teaching children about nature and the natural world more widely. Through the simple task of butterfly spotting, children will get to understand the important role of butterflies, bees and other insects as pollinators. They’ll learn about concepts like metamorphosis, where food comes from, how plants, trees and creatures reproduce, the circle of life, and even about their own place in the world. These are profound and important concepts.

Spending time in and around nature is also hugely beneficial to children in mind, body, spirit and even academically. That conclusion is supported by study after study, all around the world. Indeed, we have written a separate article about the benefits of nature to children. Take a look by following the bold link.

Some of the Benefits to Butterflies & the Natural World

Nature-based activities like butterfly spotting will also begin to foster a deeper appreciation in children for the natural world and the flora and fauna within it. Children who regularly spend time in and around nature will tend to develop an affinity for it, right into adulthood. As well as enjoying everything that the Great Outdoors has to offer, children who are used to spending time in natural environments are often more environmentally conscious, with a greater sense of empathy for other creatures and a more responsible attitude around the impact that humans are having on the planet. And, as we’re seeing in recent news about global warming, climate change and the effects on recent weather patterns, such attitudes have never been more important. Children are the planet’s future, so encouraging them to look after the natural world is crucial for its very survival. The human race needs to act decisively to reverse both climate change and habitat loss so that wildlife populations can begin to recover. If there were no pollinators, then we’d all be in deep trouble.

The Best Places to Spot Butterflies

There are some obvious, and not-so-obvious, places where children are most likely to see the most butterflies:

  • Around flowers and blossoms, as nectar is their food.
  • Especially around butterfly-loving plants like Buddleia, also known as the ‘Butterfly Plant’.
  • Around calm, sheltered, sunnier spots, especially in the middle of the day — although they’re around any time of day if it’s warm (above 20ºC if it’s cloudy). Butterflies are delicate and do not like the wind.
  • Butterflies love brambles, flower meadows and forest clearings (‘glades’) where wildflowers grow.
  • They’ll also be drawn to forests and glades where a variety of different tree and plant species are growing at different stages of development.
  • Areas with long grass and hedgerows are good spots if they contain wildflowers.

Look But Don’t Touch

Butterflies are very delicate creatures, with wings that are easily damaged. Therefore, teach children not to try to catch or hold them. It’s best if families simply look rather than touch. Also, try to keep fairly still because butterflies can sense movement from multiple directions and are constantly on the lookout for danger.

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool, Padiham

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Children also get to immerse themselves in nature-based activities at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, where we offer high-quality weekday childcare for babies and children under five. The service is much more than that, though, as we give children the very best start in life, nurturing them in their early years to become the very best version of themselves by the time they leave us to start school. Their learning and all areas of personal, social and emotional development come on in leaps and bounds during their time with us. This gives them all the tools they’ll need to thrive going forwards. We also support all the free childcare schemes offered by the Government to eligible families, including free childcare hours for 2-year-olds and up to 30 free hours per week for 3 and 4-year-olds and much more.

For more information, to register for a childcare place, or request a guided tour with your child, please get in touch using an option below:

Apply for a Place Book a Tour Message Us 01282 680 822

Little Acorns is a nursery & preschool in Padiham, also being convenient for families nearby in Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.