How do we know how well our butterflies are faring... when we don't know where they are (or aren't)? Here in NZ most people don't even know what butterfly species we have.
We learned this in 2019 when we did our first national survey of butterfly species, and realised we needed to do much more education before we embarked on another project like this. And now, with the help of technology and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, it is going to be much simpler.
At a time convenient to you, on the weekend of 17 and 18 February, we would like you to do a 15-minute butterfly count. It would be great if you could choose somewhere where you will be able to repeat the exercise year after year. If you have a smartphone, download the app - look for the purple icon.
Using the app your data will be recorded online.
If you don't have a smartphone you can download this paper sheet (link below) to record your 15-minute butterfly count, and will also need a pen/pencil and a timer.
Under each species, use a tally to record the highest number of that species you see at any one time. Draw a short line to represent each record e.g. three kahukura seen at one time would be "III". If you see four kahukura, add an extra line. The next (fifth) mark would go across the earlier four, so that you had a group of five. See the illustration below.
At the end of the 15 minutes, you can count the groups of five, and add any "odd" marks to give your total.
Make sure you have added the details as to location etc, and in case we need to contact you, your name and phone number. Written sheets can then be mailed to MBNZT, PO Box 44.100, Pt Chevalier, Auckland 1246 OR scanned and emailed to .
You can carry out your count in a defined area such as a garden, park or paddock, while walking along, or standing on a fixed point counting butterflies that fly past. We recommend choosing a time that is sunny and warm, with no rain, and not too windy. The best time to see the most butterflies is usually early afternoon.