The Big Butterfly Count: six species you can spot across Greater Manchester

If you find yourself out in the garden or out for a stroll in your nearby park or woods over the coming weeks, be sure to keep an eye out for butterflies.

This year marks the 10th annual national Big Butterfly Count, which began on June 17 and ends on August 9.

To take part in the UK-wide survey all you need is an ID chart, a keen set of eyes and a rare, clear day in Greater Manchester.

Here are just a few species you can spot across Greater Manchester…

1. Green-veined white

This butterfly gets its name from its green vein-like markings on its wings, which sets it aside from other white butterflies. It is common across Manchester in damp areas with lots of vegetation, like park meadows and Riverside.

2. Small copper

With bright orange wings, speckled by black spots and bordered by a thin band of black, the Small Copper butterfly like feeding on thistle and ragwort in dry habitats. They will most likely be found on peatland, bare and dry grassland, woodland clearings and waste ground. Although incredibly territorial and fierce, this only applies to animals at insect level, so fear not!

3. Small tortoiseshell

These colourful butterflies are also a distinctive bright orange and marked with black spots but their wings are bordered with bright blue spots. They are also larger than the small copper butterflies and are one of the most widespread species in the country. They can be spotted nearly all year-round and you are likely to find them in your garden. This is one to spot if you don’t feel like venturing too far.

4. Comma

This species can also be found all year-round. The Comma gets its name from the white comma-like markings on the underside of its wings and at first glance, it might look like a small and ragged old leaf. It has not had its wings nibbled away at, but it is using a clever disguise to protect itself. During hibernation, the Comma will conceal itself against dead leaves to trick any hungry and unwelcome visitors. The Comma can be found in woodland clearings.

5. Peacock

One of the most easily recognisable species, this large butterfly offers a magnificent display on its wings. Four bright eye-like patterns are on each wing of the peacock to startle any would-be predators. It’s spectacular ‘eyes’ are on top of a bright orange upper-side but its underside is a lot darker. Peacock butterflies can be found in the garden in late summer but if you’re out in a park or are of woodland, keep your eyes peeled.

6. Brimstone

The word ‘butterfly’ is sometimes said to have originated from the buttery yellow of the male brimstone butterflies. The females are pale green in colour and may even appear white. However, both male and female have angular, veined wings and they can be found in grassland and woodland.

Butterflies are a vital part of our ecosystem as pollinators and a key part of the food chain. Aside from killing some time or discovering a new hobby, you will also be helping to keep track of an important piece of our environment.

You can help attract butterflies to your garden by growing lots of nectar-rich plants or by putting some over-ripe fruit in a sunny spot. sweet and sticky fruit like bananas are big butterfly favourite.

Another tip would be to heat a quarter cup of sugar with two cups of water until the sugar has dissolved. After leaving it to cool for 30 minutes, soak a brightly coloured cloth in the liquid and place it near some flowers.

You can find out more and record your findings on the Big Butterfly Count site.

Happy counting!

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