There’s four days left of the Big Butterfly Count 2014.
The charity Butterfly Conservation hopes that thousands of participants will spend 15 minutes to log 1m butterfly sightings – beating last year’s record of 800,000.
Nature lovers are being asked to count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather. Records are welcome from anywhere, including parks, school grounds, gardens, fields and forests.
If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once.
If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.
The charity said: “Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.
“The count will also assist us in identifying trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.”
You can download a handy identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen and submit separate records for different dates, and for different places that you visit.
You can send in your sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or by using a free smartphone apps available for iOS and Android.
Originally posted on Science Post:
By tracing nearly 3,000 genes to the earliest common ancestor of butterflies and moths, scientists have created an extensive “Tree of Lepidoptera” in the first study to use large-scale, next-generation DNA sequencing.
Credit: © andrey7777777
Among the study’s more surprising findings: Butterflies are more closely related to small moths than to large ones, which completely changes scientists’ understanding of how butterflies evolved. The study also found that some insects once classified as moths are actually butterflies, increasing the number of butterfly species higher than previously thought.
“This project advances biodiversity research by providing an evolutionary foundation for a very diverse group of insects, with nearly 160,000 described species,” said Akito Kawahara, lead author and assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “With a tree, we can now understand how the majority of butterfly and moth species evolved.”
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July 4th, 2014 by Robin Priestley
Wonderful news, we’ve protected our bees! Yesterday Syngenta withdrew their controversial application to allow their banned bee-killer pesticides back on UK fields.
Owen Paterson, the environment minister, sided with Syngenta. But the decision was deemed so toxic that it was brought all the way up to the Prime Minister and his cabinet to discuss.
The day before the big meeting, the huge people-powered petition signed by over 200,000 of us was delivered to the PM’s desk.  And on the morning of the meeting, hundreds of us swarmed on Downing St to confront the ministers as they arrived. 
Dressed as bee-keepers, bees and pesticides, and with a host of other campaign organisations we chanted at the top of our voices and left the ministers in no doubt that we expected them to put our bees before Syngenta’s profits. Alongside 38 Degrees members, a…
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The RELEAF London Partnership will undertake a new survey of London’s trees and woodlands this summer to establish the benefits they provide and put a value on them.
It will be the world’s largest urban forest survey and 200 volunteers are needed to take part. You will be out in the field for about four days, helping to protect the Capital’s woodlands for future generations by looking at and measuring tress across Greater London.
The volunteers will receive training in the use of the US Forest Service’s i-tree methodology and be accredited as an i-Tree Eco London 2014 surveyor. If you’d like to take part, contact Jim Smith at the Forestry Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in Nature, Trees, Woods
Elephant in the River by Radka Kirby, part of Wildlife Artist of The Year exhibition.
The David Shepherd Foundation’s Wildlife Artist of the Year opens at Mall Galleries on Tuesday, 3 June.
Shortlisted works will be available to view and buy at the galleries from 3-7 June, exhibited alongside work by David Shepherd and selected guest artists. All sales go towards raising funds and awareness for endangered wildlife.
The David Shepherd Foundation works on a small number of carefully selected wildlife projects in Africa. See last year’s winning artworks here.