big butterfly count 2013 results: country by country

The most common species tend to be similar across the UK, although some don’t occur in every country. However, there are some interesting variations.

The Top 10 most abundant species in each UK country were as follows:


Northern Ireland



1. Small White

1. Green-veined White

1. Small Tortoiseshell

1. Small White

2. Large White

2. Small Tortoiseshell

2. Small White

2. Large White

3. Peacock

3. Ringlet

3. Green-veined White

3. Meadow Brown

4. Meadow Brown

4. Small White

4. Ringlet

4. Gatekeeper

5. Gatekeeper

5. Meadow Brown

5. Meadow Brown

5. Green-veined White

6. Small Tortoiseshell

6. Large White

6. Large White

6. Peacock

7. Green-veined White

7. Six-spot Burnet

7. Peacock

7. Small Tortoiseshell

8. Ringlet

8. Speckled Wood

8. Speckled Wood

8. Ringlet

9. Six-spot Burnet

9. Red Admiral

9. Red Admiral

9. Red Admiral

10. Comma

10. Peacock

10. Common Blue

10. Six-spot Burnet


Bumper butterfly summer across UK

The country trends followed the overall UK pattern of change very closely, with the ‘whites’ dominating at the expense, this year, of the Meadow Brown and Ringlet.

In each country a clear majority of the 21 target species improved this summer when compared with last year's big butterfly count. In Northern Ireland, 89% of species increased in 2013, while in Wales the proportion was 81%, Scotland 74% and in England 71%.

The Peacock showed the largest year on year increase of any species in each of the four UK countries. In England it rose from 16th place last year to 3rd in 2013 (with numbers up by >3,500), while in Northern Ireland over 200 Peacocks were counted this summer compared to just one in big butterfly count 2012.

The Small Tortoiseshell also did well across the board, topping the chart in Scotland (where numbers increased by 300% compared with 2012, when it came 4th) and coming second in Northern Ireland (with a year on year increase of 312%).

Red Admiral did particularly well in Northern Ireland (increasing by over 2,700%) compared with only double digit increases in England and Scotland.

The southerly influence on the immigrant Silver Y was clearly seen. Numbers increased by 410% in England and 178% in Wales, but only by 32% in Northern Ireland and they actually fell by 5% in Scotland. Painted Lady, on the other hand, increased across the board.

Common Blue, which suffered some of the worst declines last year, improved in England (74% increase), Northern Ireland (54% increase) and Wales (303% increase) but declined in Scotland (39% decrease). The Six-spot Burnet moth also showed a slightly odd pattern increasing substantially (by 95%) in Northern Ireland, while declining in the other three countries.


Record-breaking participation

Public participation in big butterfly count 2013 was the best ever, with over 46,000 people taking part overall. A fantastic effort by each and every one of you! As usual, most counts were undertaken in England (accounting for almost 90% of counts) but great effort was made in all parts of the UK. The number of counts in Wales more than doubled compared with last year and exceeded 2000 for the first time, while the number of counts in England increased by 84% and almost reached 40,000. Northern Ireland submitted 67% more counts than in 2012 and the Scottish total increased by 51%. Also a special mention and lots of thanks to big butterfly count participants in the Isle of Man, who contributed over twice as many counts this year.

Butterflies and moths don't recognise human borders so the involvement of people right across the UK is absolutely vital to ensure the success of the big butterfly count and our ability to track the changing fortunes of our beautiful butterflies and moths.

View Big Butterfly Count website