Identifying and counting butterflies in your garden is a fun activity for adults and children – and provides useful scientific data.
In Belgium between 4 and 26 July 2020 a census of garden butterflies is taking place. (And in other European countries too, but the dates vary). It’s the opportunity to count the number of butterflies in your garden and submit the numbers to the relevant authorities. The aim is to investigate trends in butterfly species and help guide butterfly conservation efforts.
Taking part is easy. Simply count the butterflies you see in your garden during any 15-minute period within this time period. Counts are best undertaken on a dry, sunny day. This is a great idea for children too!
You then submit your results online. This is where it gets a little complicated. Belgium being Belgium, there is no single, central website. If you live in Flanders, you need to go to the Natuurpunt website and enter your results in Flemish here. In Wallonia you go to the Natagara website and enter your results in French here. If you live in bilingual Brussels, just choose the website in the language you feel most comfortable.
A GUIDE TO IDENTIFY GARDEN BUTTERFLIES
As you will realize once you head over to these sites, they are only available in Dutch or French (although Natagara is also in German). This makes it difficult for anyone who is unfamiliar with the Dutch or French names of butterflies.
So below I provide photos of the 16 most common garden butterflies you could expect to see in your garden. Each is identified with its English, Dutch, French and scientific name. So when you go online to record your observations you can easily tick the correct boxes.
MORE INFORMATION ON GARDEN BUTTERFLIES
Many thanks to Matt Rowlings of EuroButterflies.com for giving me permission to use his photographs. All the above 16 photos are his. Matt’s site is also highly informative, so if you need more information on a particular butterfly, it’s a great place to start.
If you see a butterfly you can’t identify, you can always take its picture and email it to me and I will do my best to identify it.
I hope you enjoy your butterfly counting weekend, and as I said earlier, it’s a great opportunity to introduce your children to butterfly identification and conservation.
Here are two lovely books to read if you’re interested in butterflies or how to make your garden more attractive to butterflies and other wildlife: