Steve Connor: If only we all had an extra couple of digits

Science Notebook: A kilogram, we now know, is the total amount of pasta you can eat in one go

Gotcha! How we found one of Britain's smallest, brightest butterflies

Our Great British Butterfly Hunt heads for the South Downs

Butterfly spotting with <i>The Independent</i>

Go down to Kew in lilac time, wrote the poet Alfred Noyes in a ditty called The Barrel Organ, singing the praises of the blossoms and the birds in the Royal Botanic Gardens at the height of the spring. Shame he didn’t mention the butterflies.

If you go down to the woods today ... you're sure to see butterflies

Environment editor Michael McCarthy did &ndash; and spotted eight species at the start of our butterfly hunt

Backing from National Trust

Britain's largest landowner hopes campaign will heighten public awareness of butterfly population

Cabbage whites under threat

As our hunt gathers pace, more evidence emerges of the predicament facing Britain's native species

Attenborough applauds our hunt for Britain's butterflies

Quest to find endangered treasures of natural world is praised by conservationists and politicians

Dr Martin Warren: Delightful, delicate, and in need of our attention

Butterflies are nature's artwork, symbolising both the beauty and fragility of the natural world. In Britain, we are fortunate that some of our most common species are also the most enchanting. My favourite is the red admiral, with its bright red sash across a velvet black background. Other common garden visitors like the peacock and painted lady are a glorious sight on a hot summer's day.

Leading article: Float like a butterfly

"I only ask to be free" says Harold Skimpole in Bleak House. "The butterflies are free." Dickens's character meant "free" in the sense that these insects are able to fly where they will. But there is another sense in which butterflies are free: it costs us nothing to enjoy their beauty.

Red admiral

Vanessa atalanta

Green shoots and leaves: Monitoring rising sap

Van demand: Dealers around Britain are saying that there is a surge in demand for used vans, according to the industry website honestjohn.co.uk. And who could possibly doubt a source like that?

Professor Michael Majerus: Geneticist who defended Darwin in the battle against creationism

Michael Majerus was a gifted Cambridge scientist and teacher, and a doughty defender of Darwin and his theory of natural selection. Hissubjects were moths and ladybirds, which he saw as perfect tools fordigging into evolutionary questions, but he also loved them for their own sake. He was that increasingly rare phenomenon, a scientist who was also a field naturalist (he was running a moth trap in his garden from the age of 10). Perhaps it was this instinctive "feeling for the organism", allied to his natural vitality and infectious enthusiasm for insects, that made Majerus such a popular teacher, and one in demand by the media.

Changing climate devastates UK species

Insects, birds and bats suffer from cold spring &ndash; and second sodden summer in a row

The environmentalist: Matt Shardlow

The environmentalist with the most conspicuous rising reputation in Britain looks after the lowliest of wildlife. Matt Shardlow is Britain's champion of invertebrates – insects, spiders, worms, snails and the rest of "the little things that rule the world". Although Britain has a long and noble tradition of entomologists and other specialists in mini-beasts, Matt is director of a pioneering body that looks out for the interests of all of them – Buglife, the invertebrate conservation charity.

Believe it or not, this was the tenth hottest year ever

Summer may have been a washout, but the world is still getting warmer
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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

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