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The Butterfly Effect: Monitoring and protecting local butterflies and moths

July 15, 2021

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Nick Walsh

“Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” wondered weatherman Ed Lorenz in 1972. Whilst we might have differing opinions on whether a destructive meteorological phenomenon can in fact be caused by the flap of a South American Lepidopteran, I do believe that small actions can cause a chain reaction. We are seeing this in sustainability – as more companies choose to operate in a planet-friendly manner, they are dragging stragglers along with them. The driving force for this, the butterfly flapping its wings, is us – consumers and environmental advocates coming together and rejecting the previous status quo. 

Anyway – enough loose interpretations of the chaos theory! The 16th July marks the start of 2021’s Big Butterfly Count – the one of the world’s biggest citizen science projects and the world’s biggest butterfly survey. Over 111,500 citizen scientists took part in 2020, submitting 145,249 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK. 

Why count butterflies? 

As well as being important pollinators and part of many complex food webs, Butterflies are what is known as an indicator species. They are so receptive to changes in the environment and so fragile that they can foreshadow losses of other species – sort of like nature’s version of a canary in a coal mine. As such, a yearly butterfly count does not just tell us about our local butterfly biodiversity, it also gives us an idea of the health of our local, regional and national ecosystems. 

It is also super easy to take part, and it is fascinating to head to the map page and watch the nation’s counts slowly populate the map! 

And don’t forget Moths!

It’s easy to forget the butterfly’s unglamorous cousin – but moths are equally important ecologically – as key pollinators and a food source for bats, amongst others. They can also be incredibly beautiful too – as seen by the hummingbird hawk moth (as shown above, photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash).  

Coinciding with the Big Butterfly Count is National Moth Week (17th to 25th July). You can find details of mothing events close to you here

What can we do?

Here are some ways that hospitality businesses can protect local butterflies and moths and get involved with the Big Butterfly Count (and National Moth Week!). A major help is habitat creation as habitat loss is a major reason for butterfly and moth numbers declining.

Ensure your gardens have native local species of plants, trees and bushes – a particular favourite of many British butterfly species is the Buddleia. 

Even if you are a city centre business, you can have a garden! Green roofs and walls are an important part of creating a mosaic of wildlife corridors in cities.  

Build or buy an insect hotel or butterfly house to have in your building’s grounds. 

Encourage staff and guests to participate in the Big Butterfly Count! Hand out identification guides and offer participants the chance to upload their counts themselves or hand them to reception staff for upload.  

Contact a local university and offer to host a moth night in your hotel gardens!  

As part of our tailored strategy work with clients, Considerate Group always place an emphasis on the importance of promoting and protecting local biodiversity. For more information on this, please get in touch