THERE is plenty for insect-lovers to get excited ahead of this year's Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, with record numbers of the rare Silver-studded Blue butterflies spotted at Prees Heath Common Reserve.

The Big Butterfly Count takes place each year, and this year runs from Friday, July 17 until Sunday, August 9.

Everyone is invited to take part, by counting the different species of butterfly they see during 15 minutes – this can be anywhere from your garden to parks, fields, hedgerows or woods.

Prees Heath Common Reserve is the last remaining sanctuary for the Silver-studded Blue butterfly in the whole of the Midlands, because of the destruction of its natural heathland habitat.

Stephen Lewis, volunteer reserve warden with Butterfly Conservation, said the work to create an ideal environment for butterflies more than a decade ago has begun to pay off.

“Extensive work begun in 2007 to recreate heathland on areas of the reserve where the heathland had been destroyed by arable cultivation is now reaping huge dividends for the Silver-studded Blue butterfly," said Stephen.

"A weekly transect route is walked each week from the beginning of April to the end of September, recording all butterfly species 2.5 metres on either side.

"This year the Silver-studded Blues started to emerge very early, with the first ones being seen on May 30, and are still to be seen well into July.

"On the transect several hundred have been recorded each week, and this is especially evident of the heathland recreation areas.

"The work to restore these areas has been particularly challenging and ambitious, so it is very satisfying that this has happened."

The Big Butterfly Count is now in its 11th year and provides vital figures for scientists as to how our butterflies are faring.

For more information on how to take part, how to identify the different species and how to submit records visit