A WILDLIFE survey launches today to gather information on life in gardens across France.
The Observatoire des Papillons des Jardins asks people to keep an eye out for the different types of butterfly to be spotted in their garden – which have seen a steep decline in recent years.
Butterfly populations have seen a drop of 71% in 20 years in England, and are down by 50% in 14 years in Europe.
Anybody can take part by signing up online at www.noeconservation.org, and counting the butterflies in a public or private garden.
Details on the website will help participants to identify different species. Once identified, a participant counts how many butterflies of that species are visible in the garden at any one time.
The data given will be gathered and analysed by scientists at the Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle to gain a better insight into butterfly populations on a national level and, in the long term, will enable measures to be put in place to help populations survive.
In 2008, 3,608 gardens were studied and 142,643 butterflies counted.
This year the operation is also being extended to include a study of snails, of which there are more than 400 species in France.
Labelled Opération Escargots, people are requested to look for snails and slugs in their gardens three times a year, identify them, and send their findings to the scientists at the museum.
People are asked to do an inventory in the garden, and also to place a plank of word in their garden then count how many snails and slugs are underneath.
Those who want to take part in Opération Escargots can also sign up on the website.
Photo: A red admiral butterfly snapped in La Manche