From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

David Attenborough on Britain’s butterflies

Britain's butterflies desperately need a spell of warmer weather to boost their numbers.

Sir David is urging people to take part in the 2016 Big Butterfly Count. © Butterfly Conservation
Published: July 15, 2016 at 7:13 am
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Many of Britain's butterflies are struggling, and this year's cold and rather soggy summer is not helping.


Cool, wet weather can have a disastrous effect on butterfly numbers, because these insects struggle to feed and mate in damp conditions. With a chilly March and April, an only vaguely warm-ish May and a largely wet June, our butterflies are feeling the cold: sightings have been down on previous years.

Like many of us, they're in dire need of some sunshine. “Red admirals, small coppers, green-veined whites and speckled woods really need a boost of warm summer weather to enable them to thrive," said Sir David Attenborough, president of Butterfly Conservation.

“During my lifetime I have seen first-hand how the UK’s once plentiful butterflies have dwindled and diminished, with some species even becoming extinct. This is a gloomy outlook, but not one that is set in stone. We must make sure these losses are halted and reversed, but in order to achieve this we first need to find out as much information about our butterflies as possible."

You can do your bit by taking part in Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count, now in its 7th year, from 15 July to 7 August. Download the identification chart, find a warm, sunny spot and spend 15 minutes recording any species you see. Submit your sightings online at or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.


“We live busy lives that are increasingly detached from the natural world, so taking 15 minutes out to simply watch wildlife is not only helping butterflies but is also good for our own wellbeing," said Sir David.


Sarah McPhersonFeatures editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine

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