How many butterflies visit your Naturespace?


Getting Ready for your Survey

In this survey you will be recording the small tortoiseshell butterflies and other butterfly species in your Naturespace. Please complete this survey when small tortoiseshell butterflies are most active, between March and October. This survey will take about ten minutes in total and will give you an idea of how the butterflies in your Naturespace are doing. You can take our quiz to test your skills at identifying the small tortoiseshell butterfly.

Butterflies are more active when it is warm and sunny, so we recommend that you complete the survey when the weather is clear and the temperature is above 11°C. This survey follows the same structure as the early bumblebee survey, so you can complete the bee survey at the same time if you want to.

What you will need to conduct the survey

Spotter's guide

Download the spotter’s guide to help you identify the correct species.

Survey form

Download the survey form in case you don't want to fill it in online whilst outside.

Paper & pencil

You’ll need to make notes during the survey, so keep paper and a pencil handy.

Tape measure & markers

You’ll need to mark out your survey area.


Take lots of photos during the survey, so you can take a closer look or share them with us.


How to Take the Survey
  • For this survey, you will observe a 1m x 1m area (known as a quadrat) for ten minutes and record what you see. Your area must include some flowering plants, but can also contain other things like soil, grass and water.

    You can get creative with your quadrat – vertical areas such as climbing plants or green walls can be used, or container plants and window boxes are great options too.

    Mark out your 1m x 1m survey area.

  • Count the flowers in your chosen survey area and be aware that different flowers need to be counted in different ways. Depending on the flower structure, you may need to count:

    Individual Flowers

    Each flower counts as one unit.

    Flower Heads

    Where there are lots of tiny flowers within a larger flower head (eg dandelion), each flower head counts as one unit.

    Flower Umbels

    For flowers that have small flowers grouped into ‘umbels’ (eg hogweed), each umbel counts as one unit. (These look like inside out umbrellas.)

    Flower Spikes

    Where a number of small flowers are arranged along a stem (eg lavender), each spike counts as one unit.

    Diagrams produced by the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme

    • In some situations, there may be a lot of flowers to count.In this case, it's fine to make an estimate by counting flower units in a quarter of the quadrat and multiplying this by four to get a total for the whole survey area. Only count flowers that are in reasonable condition and that are likely to attract insects. Do not count ‘dead-head’ flowers or seed heads.
    • Count the flowers and record your results.
    • Tip: wait a couple of minutes before you start the survey, so that any butterflies you may have disturbed when counting your flowers have a chance to return.
    • Start your timer and spend ten minutes observing your survey area, counting any of the butterflies and other pollinators that appear within it.
    • You might see lots of butterflies and other pollinators flying in and out of your survey area which makes observing tricky, but try to record what you see as accurately as possible.
    • Avoid recording the same individual multiple times, but don’t worry if you are unsure. If you can’t identify a particular insect, make a note and try to take some pictures to check after you have finished the survey. You can post these online or use our guide to check before you submit your results.


If you recorded small tortoiseshell butterflies, great! If you didn’t see any, it is still useful for us to know this result so we can build a clearer picture of the butterflies in your area. You can repeat this survey as often as you like and in different parts of your Naturespace. If you would like to find out how to do more for butterflies in your Naturespace check out the small tortoiseshell butterfly species page.

©Earthwatch 2020  
Unless otherwise credited, all illustrations © Chris Shields, and all wildlife photographs © Steven Falk
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By selecting one or more of our five priority species, you can help us find out more about their life cycle and how their habitat affects them, and access specific activities to help you support that species. This feed shows you the activities you can complete next. We’ll remind you when there’s an activity coming up for you to complete.
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By selecting one or more of our five priority species, you can help us find out more about their life cycle and how their habitat affects them, and access specific activities to help you support that species.
The species quizzes are a fun way for you to get started with Naturehood and test your knowledge on any of our Naturehood 5 species. Click on any of the species icons to get started.