Get involved in the Big Butterfly Count to help relieve anxiety - The Stratford Observer

Get involved in the Big Butterfly Count to help relieve anxiety

Stratford Editorial 17th Mar, 2024   0

COUNTING butterflies has been proven to reduce anxiety levels by almost 10 per cent, according to a new study conducted by Butterfly Conservation in collaboration with the University of Derby.

The research highlights the significant mental health benefits by participating in the Big Butterfly Count – a citizen science project aimed at monitoring butterfly populations across the UK.

The study surveyed individuals who engaged in the Big Butterfly Count in 2022.

The findings showed dedicating as little as 15 minutes to observing and counting butterflies led to a notable decrease in anxiety levels, with participants reporting an average reduction of nine per cent.

The act of connecting with nature in this way resulted in increased feelings of wellbeing and a bigger sense of being connected with the natural world.

Dr Richard Fox, head of science at butterfly conservation, said: “While we have long known that there is a link between nature and human wellbeing, this study is the first to prove that the simple act of looking for and counting butterflies leads to a measurable decrease in anxiety.

“The results suggest that citizen science projects such as the Big Butterfly Count can play a part in improving people’s mental health, as well as gathering important data on how butterflies are faring to inform our conservation work.”

Dr Carly Butler, a researcher in nature connectedness at the University of Derby and lead researcher on the study, said the study showed even small periods of time spent counting butterflies are beneficial and will reduce anxiety.

She added it was key to proving simple small pockets of time spent with wildlife has a positive effect on how people feel.

Participants in the study reported a spectrum of emotions, ranging from joy and fascination to sadness and concern.

The occasional feelings of sadness were from the declining butterfly populations, as they did not see as many butterflies as they expected.

Dr Butler added: “Interestingly, the more intensely participants felt these emotions, the more their feeling of closeness to nature and noticing wildlife increased afterwards, with participants reporting they felt motivated to help butterflies and nature more, by doing things such as transforming their gardens into butterfly-friendly havens.”

Dr Fox added: “In order to save wildlife and ensure nature’s recovery we need people to care, and we know that being connected to nature sparks these caring feelings and a desire to do something positive.

“We’re at a tipping point, nature is in crisis, but we can all do something to help. Simple acts such as creating wild spaces to provide a haven for wildlife, or planting butterfly friendly plants in pots on a patio, terrace or balcony can have a positive impact.”

The Big Butterfly Count is Butterfly Conservation’s main science activity, involving thousands of participants across the UK who spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot and record the number and type of common butterflies and day-flying moths that they see.

This year’s count is scheduled from July 12 to August 4 – people can contribute to vital conservation efforts while reaping the mental health benefits of connecting with nature.

Visit for advice on creating a wild space for butterflies ready for the Big Butterfly Count.


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