Nearly a million butterflies counted in last five years

Two Small Tortoiseshells, one open-winged, the other closed
Small Tortoiseshells. These butterflies seem to be doing rather better as we start our new five-year recording cycle. Photo: Mark Pike.

Thanks to the fantastic efforts of large numbers of volunteers, plus very welcome contributions from the general public, we have counted nearly one million butterflies in Dorset over the last five years.

The approximate numbers by year were:

  • 2010 – 141,436
  • 2011 – 175,021
  • 2012 – 138,458
  • 2013 – 239,393
  • 2014 – 270,298

Total: 964,606

In fact, this is probably on the low side: some recording sheets only call for butterflies to be recorded in bands, e.g. two-to-nine butterflies could mean someone saw two, three, four etc, up to nine. We have had to estimate to produce the above figures, and we’ve erred on the cautious side.

One would guess that the dip in 2012 was caused by the awful weather that year. The higher numbers in the final two years are possibly a combination of the success of the national “Big Butterfly Count”*  plus increased volunteer effort as we came to the end of a five-year recording cycle.

We are now starting a new five-year recording cycle, so we need all the sightings we can get – please use our Species pages to help you identify what you see, then report them via our Sightings page. Or you can look at the variety of recording methods on our How to Record page and choose the right one(s) for you.

*The 2015 Big Butterfly Count will be 19-31 July

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