Searching for declining butterflies on the bog

A wildlife charity is calling on nature enthusiasts in Edinburgh to help search for a once common butterfly, which has suffered a 68% decline across Scotland in the last 10 years.

Butterfly Conservation Scotland is extremely concerned about the Small Tortoiseshell and needs people to help look for the butterfly on Sunday 28 July at the city’s last peatbog site.

Families are invited to take free guided butterfly walks at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Red Moss of Balerno reserve between 10am and 1pm and their sightings will be logged as part of the charity’s Big Butterfly Count – the largest butterfly survey in the world.

Butterfly Conservation Scotland’s peatland project officer David Hill said: ‘The Small Tortoiseshell appears to be struggling everywhere, but we’ve seen a particularly worrying decline across Scotland.

‘Counting butterflies contributes to valuable research on how each species is faring and also help us to piece together why declines are happening in the first place.

‘This Big Butterfly Count event is the perfect opportunity to look for the Small Tortoiseshell, which is just beginning to emerge at the Red Moss of Balerno Wildlife Reserve – the only peatbog habitat in Edinburgh.’

The event on Sunday 28 July also takes place on International Bog Day – a world-wide awareness day to show people the value of peatlands and the threats they are facing.

David added: ‘Many people don’t know that our peatbogs are being destroyed, with three billion litres of peat sold each year as compost for our gardens – despite there being other peat-free options available for people to use.

‘Bogs provide a vital home for many beautiful butterflies and moths, as well as insect-eating plants and dragonflies, but they also store huge amounts of carbon, so are vital in the fight to tackle climate change. They also store water, which helps to reduce flooding risks.

‘Please join us at Edinburgh’s last peatbog to see for yourself the amazing wildlife found here and help us secure a future for the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in Scotland.’

Find out how to go peat free in your garden at

The Big Butterfly Count runs from 19 July to 11 August and is sponsored by B&Q. Taking part in the Count is easy – find a sunny spot anywhere in the UK and spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see and then submit sightings online at or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.

Butterfly Conservation has more than 2200 members living in Scotland where they work closely with local communities, landowners, the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and other conservation partners, to safeguard Scotland’s butterflies, moths and their habitats.