Butterfly counters: Public asked to join national Lepidopterists’ census

2013-04-15 00:00

BUTTERFLIES are always beautiful to look at, but the time has come to count them as well. South Africa’s seventh Butterfly Census Week is taking place from April 20-28. It is run by the Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa in an effort to begin a long-term butterfly monitoring programme for monitoring ecosystem health.

Anyone can participate in the census and is encouraged to do so by the Butterfly Census Week co-ordinator, Esther Mostert. Results from the last six counts show that KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have the highest participation in the country. “We are glad there are so many participants in KZN. Hopefully this will encourage other provinces to get involved as well.” said Mostert. KZN also has the largest number of species observed in the census.

Mostert said: “By looking at what species occur in which areas as well the distribution of the species, we can, over time, see the effects the environment has on the butterflies and from that data monitor the health of the environment.”

According to Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa, there are seasonal trends in butterfly numbers and by monitoring these patterns in comparison with climatic variables the data may shed light on changes in the environment.

Pietermaritzburg’s Butterflies for Africa display are glad this is being done. General manager Brett Cooper said: “It is such a good idea. Butterflies can give a pretty good indication of the health of the environment.”

The census is done by teams in a specific locality and participants range from beginner to expert categories. To find out more about the census or to take part, you can register a team at www.lepsoc.org.za.

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