Cumbria Crack

Big Butterfly Count is back

[R]usland Horizons, a 3 year HLF funded landscape partnership in the Rusland Valley and Fell have butterflies close to their heart. The Wings in the Woods project, in partnership with wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation, has been focusing on surveying, monitoring and improving the habitats of six endangered species of butterflies and moths.

Lots of work has gone into enhancing habitat connectivity by creating stepping stones and corridors to enable rare butterflies and moths to move between colonies with a view to helping the population thrive.

Did you know that butterflies are an excellent indicator of the health of an environment? Declines in butterfly populations are an early warning sign for other wildlife losses. In 2011 a study found that 72% of UK Butterfly species were found to have declined in abundance – surveying the populations are an important way of assessing the overall position and then helping to decide what actions need to be taken.

By taking part in the Big Butterfly Count 2018 you can help contribute to the biggest butterfly survey in the world and help us understand more about the Rusland Horizons area.

So what do you need to do? Just spend 15 minutes on a warm, still day, recording the butterflies and moths you see – it can be in your garden, local park or while out walking the dog. Be sure to use the ID sheet or the free Big Butterfly Count app to help you identify what you see – both can be downloaded from If you don’t see anything, or you see a different species not on the list, you should still record this – a sighting of no butterflies or moths is really important information, as is the sighting of a different species – as this could be a rare one on Rusland Horizons list!

Butterfly Conservation is working with the Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership Scheme on this exciting project to restore and enhance the unique landscape of the area in the south of the Lake District, between Coniston and Windermere. The Rusland Horizons area is part of the UK’s last remaining stronghold for the High Brown Fritillary, the UK’s most threatened butterfly species, and the Netted Carpet moth, thought to be extinct in the 1900s, but now found in only two locations. The other important species in the area are the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, the Large Heath, the Duke of Burgundy and the White-letter Hairstreak.

There are opportunities for everyone to help:

  • Recording the location of elm trees, the food plant for White-letter Hairstreak.
  • Vegetation surveys to assess the habitats for suitability for the butterflies.
  • Egg counts, larval hunts, feeding damage and surveys for the insects.
  • Practical woodland management work in winter.
  • Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count until Sunday 12 August or using the iRecord Butterflies app to submit sightings from within the Project area.

If you are interested in becoming a Butterfly Conservation volunteer in the Rusland Horizons area, please contact: Hilary Smith, Wings in the Woods Project Officer. Email: [email protected] 01524 298680/07946 026670

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