Identifying and counting garden butterflies is a fun activity for adults and children – and provides useful scientific data.
In Belgium, a census of garden butterflies takes place every year in July. Until recently, the weather here has been so wet and cool that butterflies have been virtually non-existent. But thankfully over the weekend the sun appeared – and miraculously so did the butterflies! And as the warm dry weather is here all week, now is the perfect time to get out into your garden and start identifying and counting your local butterflies. I’ll give you the details of the butterfly census later in this post.
Actually over the weekend I was delighted to spot, identify and photograph what for me was a totally new butterfly that I’d never seen before: this gorgeous Brown Argus (Bruin blauwtje in Dutch; Collier-de-corail in French):
A GUIDE TO IDENTIFY GARDEN BUTTERFLIES
If you are new to identifying garden butterflies, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Many of them (particularly the brown ones and the red ones) are rather similar. To help you, below I provide photos of the 16 most common garden butterflies you might expect to see in your garden. Each is identified with its English, Dutch, French and scientific name. I’ve included the Dutch and French names because this will help if you take part in the butterfly census in Belgium. So, here we go: how many of these do you already know, I wonder?
Take part in a garden butterfly census
As I mentioned earlier, in July in Belgium you have the chance to count the number of butterflies in your garden and submit the numbers to the relevant scientific organizations. The aim is to investigate trends in butterfly species and help guide butterfly conservation efforts. Taking part is easy. Counts are best undertaken on a dry, sunny day. This is a great idea for children too!
You 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. You have until 25 July 2021. In Wallonia you go to the Natagara website and enter your results in French here. For some reason, if you live in Wallonia you have a bit longer; until 31 July. If you live in bilingual Brussels, just choose the website in the language you feel most comfortable.
You’ll need to know the Dutch or French names too, but just to tick them off on a list. Now you know why I’ve given you the Dutch and French names of the different species! So, armed with the photos and captions above, you are well-set!
MORE INFORMATION ON 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.
I hope you enjoy identifying garden butterflies. It’s also a great summer project for your children or grandchildren, and will introduce them to butterfly identification and conservation. Two other nature projects that you might find useful are:
If you find these educational posts useful, would you consider buying me a virtual coffee to help towards the costs of running this website? Thanks. Denzil .