Every summer in the UK, nature lovers embark on an exciting adventure: the butterfly census, also known as the Big Butterfly Count. This initiative aims to contribute to the conservation of these beautiful insects and the protection of the environment. A scientific task in which everyone, regardless of gender or age, can participate and do their bit.
Thousands of volunteers identify and count specimens with butterfly census.
In 2022, more than 64 thousand people participated in this event, who dedicated themselves to count the butterflies and identify the existing species. An innovative work that was born back in 2010 and grew each summer to become the largest butterfly census on Earth.
The butterfly census is carried out with volunteers, whose task is to take pictures of the butterflies sighted and send them to an application on their cell phones.
In turn, scientists and specialists in these insects collect the information and collate it in a database of known species. As part of the sightings received, there is a map on an Internet portal that records the locations where the sightings occurred.
The 2023 count began on July 14 and ends on August 6. Those who love nature can participate in this inspired task. The more adventurous, by walking through parks or nature reserves, and the less adventurous, from their own garden.
Butterflies are important for nature
Insects, such as butterflies, bees, beetles and wasps, play a fundamental role in nature as pollinating agents, making them essential to the survival of the ecosystems in which they are found. In addition, their presence adds beautiful scenery to landscapes. However, it is worrying that between 1976 and 2019 they have lost 42% of the territory they used to inhabit. This decrease in their habitat poses serious consequences for their population and biodiversity in general.
Butterflies originated in North and Central America approximately 100 million years ago. A recent study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution revealed that their origin comes from a group of moths that changed their flight cycle from nocturnal to diurnal.
In the past, the belief was held that butterflies evolved as a result of ecological pressure. However, researchers have made new discoveries through DNA analysis that indicate that their origin is linked to the change in routine of the moths mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Thanks to a recent study, scientists suggest that the bean was the host plant that promoted the evolution of butterflies. According to researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History in the United States, this evolutionary leap can be traced in the backbone tree of about 2000 species, including all known butterflies and moths.
Worldwide, a butterfly census should be conducted because of the beauty of these picturesque winged insects. This effort not only involves reconnecting with nature, but also encouraging more people to participate in the conservation of our planet.