Attenborough is asking for your help

The conservationist is calling on people in the UK to take part in the Big Butterfly Count. 

Sir David Attenborough launches the Big Butterfly Count 2015, at London Wetland Centre, on 17 July 2015.

Sir David Attenborough is asking people to take part in the Big Butterfly Count © Helen Atkinson / Butterfly Conservation

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Following a poor year for butterflies in 2016, Sir David Attenborough is urging the public to survey butterflies and report their sightings to Butterfly Conservation.

The natural history presenter described 2017 as a “critical summer for butterflies” as many common species are in decline in Britain.

2016 was the fourth worst year on record for the insects (read more here).

“Last year, despite a warm summer, butterflies like the small tortoiseshell, peacock, meadow brown and gatekeeper saw their numbers fall,” he said.  

“A warm winter and cold spring earlier in the year led to problems that affected their numbers later on.”

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Brimstone butterfly © Bob Eade / Butterfly Conservation 

In the last 40 years, more than 75 per cent of the UK’s butterflies have declined, and new research from Butterfly Conservation shows that butterfly numbers in urban areas are decreasing faster than populations in the countryside.

Attenborough said, “Your sightings will tell us which species need help and in which areas we need to help them.

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Marbled white butterfly © Ian H Leach / Butterfly Conservation

“But the Big Butterfly Count is also good for you because 15 minutes spent watching butterflies in the summer sunshine is priceless; spending time with butterflies lifts the spirits and reinvigorates that sense of wonder in the natural world.”  

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Small copper butterfly © Ivan Lynas / Butterfly Conservation

Click here to find out more about the Big Butterfly Count and how to take part

Find out how to look after butterflies and other insects in your garden

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How to make a butterfly friendly garden

How to protect insects in your garden

Discover five butterfly eggs to spot and how to see them

10 ways you can get into butterflies

Identify British pollinators with our free ID guide

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Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine