London Natural History Society The place for wildlife in London

London Natural History Society - The place for wildlife in London


Red Admiral on bus stop mapDuring the 80’s (1980-86 to be exact) the distribution of butterflies in London was mapped in ‘The Butterflies of the London Area’ atlas. London Natural History Society (LNHS) is pleased to announce that we are now updating this atlas though our London Butterfly Atlas Project.

Much has changed since to butterflies in London; while London itself has changed and is continuing to change. Survey information will improve knowledge to help the conservation of butterflies, habitats and other wildlife in London. The project is primarily concerned with the Greater London area – that of the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London. The aim is to map at least to the tetrad (2km x 2km) level. The project is using records from 2015 - 2017. As this is a ‘dots-on-the-map’ survey, records are needed from suburban and urban areas, gardens, streets and as seen during commuting; and from green spaces.

LNHS is now calling out for butterfly records to help us fill the current gaps in our records!


Which species of butterfly are being recorded?

Orange Tip

Records for all species are welcome, but species priorities include those with single, short flight periods. The Orange Tip is an early example; while later in the season species include the Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, the Large Skipper, Marbled White and Ringlet. Hairstreaks are often associated with particular tree species. For example the Purple Hairstreak is unusual in flying in the summer evenings, rather than during the day. The young stages of some hairstreak species can be searched for at other times of the year.

The LNHS website has background information – and identification charts for common species:


Where are records needed from?

All records are welcome, including records from:
  • Private gardens – widely spread across London and easily viewable to residents.
  • Train stations (where above ground), commuter routes, town centres, residential roads, footpaths, local parks, churchyards, cemeteries, and local wildlife sites (SINCs): all the local places that make up London.
  • Recreational paths: Thames Paths, Capital Ring, London Loop, and others.
  • Anywhere in Greater London!!!

A list of the localities in London that are a priority for records is available to download: London Butterfly Atlas Project Update (September 2017), together with their corresponding tetrads (2km x 2km squares of the national grid). The image below shows the priority tetrads in orange.


How can record be submitted for use in the atlas?

LNHS is working with many other organisations to collate butterfly records for the atlas. A record consists of the Species name, the Location (preferably with a six-figure Grid Reference – or with a postcode), the Date, and your Name as recorder. The number seen, the life stage (if not a flying adult butterfly), and the habitat are useful.

For records to be included they will need to get to Leslie Williams (LNHS Butterfly Recorder) via one of the following pathways:

  • Individual records can be made online on the Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL) website at
  • For multiple records please download the London Butterfly Atlas Project Recording Sheet and email the records to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Records sent to iRecord, the iRecord Butterflies smartphone app), iSpot and Butterfly Conservation branches will also be forwarded on to us.

Additional Information

Photography: there will also be a need for photographs of species in London. More details later but please photograph throughout the season.

Butterfly Transects: Data from the monitored butterfly transects is also collated for the annual indices of population changes. Transect records contribute to the national UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) indices, to the county indices managed by the branches of Butterfly Conservation, while there is also an index for Greater London collated by the London Natural History Society. Additionally, the transect records can contribute spatial / geographic records to recording schemes, since each section of the transect routes have their own grid reference. If you are entering data online at the UKBMS site, you can create an Excel of all records. That can then also be used by the London project. The simple steps to do that are highlighted in the following box.

How to create an Excel file of your site records in the UK BMS site:

  • Log in to your transect site/s within UKBMS online.
  • For any one transect site and year:
  • Select ‘Annual Summary’
  • Select ‘Downloads’
  • Click on / select the ‘Section Level’ download
  • For the ‘Save as type’ option choose ‘Save as Excel 93-2003 Worksheet’ or another appropriate option.
  • Save
  • Open/Save it to your own Documents or system.
  • Email to the project.

Hertfordshire and Middlesex atlas: Hertfordshire and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation, and the Hertfordshire Natural History Society have produced a new atlas of butterflies. Details are available on the website of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society.

Please direct any enquiries about the project to Leslie Williams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.