‘It climbed on my son’s finger’: readers’ photos from the Big Butterfly Count


The Big Butterfly Count this year took place between 17 July and 9 August. People in Britain were asked to spend 15 minutes in a park, garden, field or wood, counting the butterflies they see.

From peacocks to jersey tigers, here are some of the photos readers sent in of the butterflies and moths they spotted during the count.

‘I just had to take a picture of it’

Astrid captured this red admiral butterfly on her phone.

“When I saw this butterfly in front of a pretty background I just had to take a picture of it. It let me come really close so I could observe it in detail,” said 11-year-old Astrid Stone of this photograph she took in her back garden in Tunbridge Wells.

“I love butterflies because of their amazing wings and fragile shape, the wonderful patterns and pretty colours. I enjoy looking for butterflies and identifying them which is why I did the butterfly count,” she said. “When I am older I hope to become a butterfly specialist.”

‘Due to lockdown, we started noticing the little things that surround us’

Rusana Krasteva's photo of a small white.

This is the second time that 34-year-old Rusana Krasteva, who works for a travel agency, has taken part in the count. She said that the pandemic adds extra poignancy to this year’s event.

“Due to the lockdown and pandemic restrictions we all started noticing the little things that surround us which we normally miss in our daily life,” she said. “Especially people like me stuck in the big busy city of London, rushing to the office five or six days a week, compared to me currently working from home and, on days like today, even from my patio garden.”

‘It made my day’

A jersey tiger shot by Charlotte.

“I saw it [a jersey tiger moth] on the ground and thought the cat who often visits had got it but it was very much alive in all of its glorious beauty,” said Charlotte Hopkins, 42, who works as an information officer at London Metropolitan Archives. “It was absolutely stunning, its colourful coat looked just like a tiger,” she added. “I had never seen one before – it made my day.”

Hopkins also took part in the count last year, both times in her garden in Camberwell, London. “This year I’ve seen a greater variety of different species: peacocks, speckled woods, small tortoiseshells and painted ladies. But I’m yet to see the famous Camberwell beauty.”

‘I’ve sometimes found myself walking through clouds of butterflies’

A marbled white in West Oxfordshire captured by Alison.

Alison Offer in Charlbury, Oxfordshire has said she sometime finds herself “walking through a cloud of butterflies”. “They must have always been there, but it’s taken till lockdown for me to notice them,” she said.

She knew about the count last year but wasn’t able to take part due to her daily commute. “This year though the world has shrunk,” said Charlbury. “Instead of sitting in a car for an hour, I’ve spent that time wandering our local green lanes and footpaths. I’ve become much more aware of butterflies now.

“I have not seen the usual number of tortoiseshells and red admirals in our garden, but the lanes and flower meadows of west Oxfordshire are alive with butterflies – marbled whites, meadow browns, gatekeeper butterflies and others.”

‘It’s only the second one we’ve seen’

Steve Banks and his 9-year-old son Ralf captured this Mountain Ringlet butterfly while on Rampsgill Head above Haweswater.

Nine-year-old Ralf spotted the mountain ringlet when with his dad Steve Banks in Rampsgill Head above Haweswater, in the Lake District.

“Ralf chased it around so he could track where it perched; I was then able to get a picture of it on my phone,” Banks said. “They are only found between 500m and 800m in the Lakes and a few locations in the Highlands. They are scarce and live on matt grass, and are usually only spotted on sunny days. It’s only the second one we’ve seen.”

Banks said his interest in butterflies had been piqued during lockdown while on walks with Ralf in their home of Threlkeld, near Keswick.

“I’ve never been involved in the butterfly count before but became interested in butterflies, moths, trees and wild flowers in more detail this year when using the lockdown to go out on nature walks with Ralf,” he said. “He’s become adept at identifying butterflies and has spotted 15 different species so far.”

‘Sometimes if you stand still they’ll land on your nose’

Stuart and his five-year-old daughter Freya spotted this tortoiseshell butterfly in Edinburgh.

In Edinburgh, five-year-old Freya spotted this tortoiseshell butterfly, which was captured by her dad Stuart, 39, on one of the family’s daily walks during lockdown.

“I love butterflies because they are so pretty and colourful,” said Freya. “Sometimes if you stand still they’ll land on your nose.”

‘My counts have taken place mostly around a buddleia bush in my garden’

John Showers captured this peacock butterfly in his garden in Northants.

“My counts have taken place exclusively in my garden and mostly around a buddleia bush and some marjoram,” said John Showers, 72, who captured this photograph of a peacock butterfly in his garden in Northants. He said there had been up to nine peacock butterflies at any one time.

This is the second year that Showers has participated in the event, and said he had seen fewer butterflies during this year’s count. “It’s not been as productive as last year, largely, I think, because of more variable weather this year,” he said. “Here we have had a lot of cloudy and breezy days which tend to depress the count.”

“At present I cannot walk very far because of a foot injury so being able to do the count in my garden has given me my daily wildlife fix,” he added.

‘We’ve seen loads of peacocks for the first time ever’

Katie Lingwood in St Albans captured the moment a butterfly landed on her son Jay's hand

“We spotted this beautiful red admiral walking past our neighbour’s front garden. I expect it was trying to dry its wings in peace,” said Katie Lingwood, 40, an architect who lives in St Albans. “My son stuck his finger out and it climbed right on.”

“We did the butterfly count last year and only saw cabbage whites and orange tipped butterflies, and only a few at that,” she said. “This year has been amazing. We’ve seen loads of peacocks for the first time ever, blue butterflies and lots of unidentified orange and brown ones. Plus, some cool moths including finding a lime hawk moth caterpillar which is huge!”

‘I saw around six butterflies at once’

Amy Glasman captured these two butterflies on the buddleia plant outside her window.

“These photos were taken in Earswick, just outside York, on 17 July at around 9.30 am,” said Amy Glasman, a 22-year-old student. “There is a buddleia plant just outside my window and there are usually multiple butterflies on it at any given time.

“On this occasion, I watched as the sun hit the plant, and the butterflies, who I assume had been sleeping on it as they were completely still, woke up and began pollinating. I could see about six butterflies on the plant at once.”

o This article was amended on 11 August 2020 because an earlier version referred to a jersey tiger as a butterfly, rather than a moth. This has been corrected.


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