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Garden Butterfly Survey

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Frequently asked questions

What is the Garden Butterfly Survey?

The Garden Butterfly Survey is a project aimed at understanding how butterflies are faring in the UK's gardens. We'd like to establish the importance of gardens as a habitat for butterflies and determine how people can make the best of their gardens to help boost butterfly populations. Sightings and information submitted about gardens will help answer these questions. Sightings will also be used by our network of county Butterfly Recorders and form part of local and national recording schemes that help inform conservation research.

How do I take part?

We want to know which butterfly species are in your garden, how many of them are present and at what times of year they are seen. Make a note of the butterflies seen throughout the year and log your sightings through this website. Check your garden at least once a month in reasonable weather. You can submit records as often as you wish. When counting, please note the maximum number of each species present in the garden at the time. Butterflies can be very active so try not to count the same individual more than once. You do not need to enter negative records (i.e. when you have looked for butterflies in your garden but not seen any).

How do I enter records?

In order to enter a sighting, you first need to log in. Next, click the Enter sightings button. A form will open on the screen. Select the date of your sighting and then find the species you want to record. It may be shown among the photographs open on the form. If not, then click on Other Butterflies in My Area or, failing that, Other Butterflies until you locate the correct species. Then click in the empty box below the image of the species and type the number that you saw. The box should turn green. When you've added all the sightings for that date, scroll down to the bottom of the page and press the yellow Submit button.

What if I already record garden butterflies?

We don't want you to enter your butterfly sightings more than once. Not only is this extra effort for you but it also creates duplicate records. So, if you take part in the Garden Butterfly Survey you do not need to put the same sightings into other recording systems. Your Garden Butterfly Survey records will be passed on to Butterfly Conservation's local branches and to County Recorders. There are several different schemes, locally and nationally, to record garden butterflies. Our advice is to choose one and don't submit the same sightings to several.

What should I do if I can't identify a butterfly?

Butterflies are relatively easy to identify compared to many other types of wildlife, but can still prove a challenge, especially if they are very active and if you are new to butterfly recording. If you are not completely sure of the identity of a butterfly that you see in the garden it is best not to enter the sighting. If in doubt, leave it out! Clicking on the species on this website will take you to more information about them, or you may wish to borrow or buy an identification guide to take out into the garden with you.

I have seen a butterfly that is not listed - how do I record it?

If the butterfly is not listed in any of the forms on the 'submit sightings' page then you cannot record it directly. If you are certain of your identification then you can include details in the notes section of the sightings form.

How do I enter sightings from more than one garden?

At present the Garden Butterfly Survey website can only allow sightings from a single garden per user account. If you wish to carry out GBS in another garden as well, you will have to open a second account and this will require a different email address (that is used to login).

When I click 'show me' for the grid reference of my garden on the registration form, the pin is in a different place

This will be because the pin shows the south-west corner of the map square defined by the grid reference you have selected. As long as the pin is still close to your garden then the grid reference is fine. If you select a more detailed grid reference for your garden (i.e. one with 8 or 10 digits) then the 'show me' pin should appear closer to your garden.

I'm moving house - what should I do?

If you move house, then simply update your details with a new grid reference and location description. All of your existing records will retain the old information and all of the new records your new information.

What will you do with the records I submit?

As well as the Garden Butterfly Survey your records will also be made accessible to the UK butterfly recording scheme (Butterflies for the New Millennium) run by Butterfly Conservation and, through this, to Local Environmental Records Centres, other conservation organisations, scientific researchers and others. As part of this process, your sightings will be checked by experts associated with the Garden Butterfly Survey and Butterflies for the New Millennium recording scheme, including Butterfly Conservation staff and volunteer BNM Local Co-ordinators (also known as County Recorders). You may be contacted via the email address you provide if there are any queries about your sightings.


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Butterfly Conservation: Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468)
Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP, Tel: 01929 400 209
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