A big butterfly count 2010 thank you!

An amazing 10,214 people took part in 2010's big butterfly count. You and your fellow butterfly counters have carried out over 15,800 counts and clocked up an incredible 210,000 individual butterflies and moths.

From 24th July - 1st August 2010, a staggering 8,977 of you took part across the length and breadth of the UK, from Orkney to Scilly and Fermanagh across to Norfolk. A breathtaking 189,000 individual butterflies and moths were counted!

This is the biggest ever weekly count of butterflies anywhere in the world!

Butterfly Top 10

The Small White was the most common butterfly overall, very closely followed by the Large White and the Gatekeeper. It was a very close race for the top spot. Nearly half (47%) of all the butterflies and moths counted belonged to these three species! The Top 10 butterflies counted during the big butterfly count are shown below:

  Species Grand Total
1 Small White 30,164
2 Large White 30,098
3 Gatekeeper 29,392
4 Meadow Brown 14,072
5 Common Blue 11,613
6 Peacock 11,283
7 Green-veined White 7,424
8 Red Admiral 6,362
9 Small Tortoiseshell 5,735
10 Ringlet 5,085


The Top 10 species for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can be found here.

Most counts took place in gardens. In fact, 42% of the butterflies and moths counted were from your gardens, with another 23% from fields and 22% from other rural habitats.

The high counts of the Large and Small White butterflies comes as little surprise, as these are very common species in almost all habitats (especially gardens) and both had a good year in 2009. The outstanding performance of the Gatekeeper, on the other hand, is a very pleasing result as this butterfly has suffered a run of extremely bad years and populations were at a low ebb. 2010 has clearly been a good year for the Gatekeeper, particularly in comparison to its close relative the Meadow Brown, which is normally the more abundant by far of the two. Gatekeepers were seen in the highest numbers in fields and other rural habitats, as well as from the centres of major cities such as London and Manchester.

It was also very pleasing to see the Small Tortoiseshell in the Top 10, as this familiar butterfly has suffered a severe decline in recent years and had become a scarce sight in many parts of the UK, particularly in the south. The results of the big butterfly count suggest that it has bounced back and it was seen by many participants, particularly in gardens (where it was the 6th most common species).

The Comma and the Speckled Wood just missed out on Top 10 places on the basis of the total numbers of butterflies counted. However, these two species were frequently seen during big butterfly counts, albeit in small numbers. In fact, the Comma was the 7th most frequently seen butterfly (in all habitats), but ranked only 11th in terms of the total number seen.

Although no day-flying moths made it into the Top 10, you were busy recording them. All six of our target moths were reported, along with many others. The most common moth during big butterfly count was the Six-spot Burnet, followed by the Silver Y and then, some way behind, the Humming-bird Hawk-moth. The Six-spot Burnet came in 13th place overall, with just over 4,000 individual moths counted.

Follow these links for more detailed analysis by each UK country, by each English region and for different habitats.


We just had to let you know how much some of you have enjoyed participating in the big butterfly count. Below are just some of the inspiring comments some of you have made:

"A wonderful idea and made us realise how beautiful and varied they are. Please do it again." Mrs E, Worcester

"They look more beautiful in real life than the pictures on the sheet, it was great fun mummy!" 10 year old, Kent

"Fab activity to do with all kinds of community groups!" Mrs W, Watford

"Good fun. Encouraged us to look more closely to what is around us." Mrs A, Shropshire

"I enjoyed it and learnt the names of butterflies for the first time" Mr K, Bridgend

We have been inundated with e-mails and suggestions and we would like to thank you all for your comments. Unfortunately we are unable to respond to all your queries and we hope that the e-mail newletters will help to answer some of your questions.

View Big Butterfly Count website