The Big Butterfly Count is the largest citizen science project of its kind and this year runs from the 15th July until the 7th August. During that time we ask people to spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot and count the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) that they see. Download the free Big Butterfly Count app or visit for more information, a free butterfly ID guide, and to submit your results.

Many people will choose to do their Big Butterfly Count in their garden, so here we have some top tips for attracting butterflies to your garden this summer.

Tips on how to attract butterflies to your garden:

  • Butterflies like warmth, so choose sunny, sheltered spots for nectar plants.
  • Choose different plants to attract a wide variety of species, and place the same types of plants together in blocks.
  • Try to provide flowers right through the butterfly season. 
  • You can prolong flowering by deadheading flowers, mulching organic compost, and watering well.
  • Don't use insecticides and pesticides - they kill butterflies and many pollinating insects.
  • Be sure to use peat-free compost. Peat bogs are home to many special animals and plants, including the Large Heath butterfly.

The best plants for summer nectar:

  • Buddleia (The butterfly bush) is very easy to grow in almost any soil. Different varieties will flower in pink, red, purple, and white. Usually in bloom through July and August. 
  • Verbena bonariensis has stems up to a metre tall, supporting heads of lilac-purple flowers. These can provide useful height at the back of a border.
  • Lavender flowers grow throughout the summer and can be used for edging beds or grown to form an attractive, low-growing hedge. Lavender thrives in a sunny, sheltered position in well-drained soil.
  • Perennial Wallflower (Bowles Mauve) produces a profusion of sweet-scented purple flowers from April through the summer. Wallflowers make great bedding plants and will grow well in full sun or light shade. Plant in well-drained soil.
  • Marjoram (Oregano) is a perennial herb that grows from 20 to 80cm tall. White, pink or purple flowers grow on spokes from June to September. A good edging plant and useful ground cover, requiring little maintenance. The smaller varieties also do well in rock and alpine gardens.


Sponsors of this year's Big Butterfly Count, wildlife specialist Vivara, have launched a range of new wildlife garden kits, including a Butterfly Garden. For more details visit: