Thursday 14 November 2019

Sir David Attenborough wants us all involved in the Big Butterfly Count

The TV nature expert hopes to see a rise in butterfly levels compared to last year.

Sir David Attenborough (John Stillwell/PA)
Sir David Attenborough (John Stillwell/PA)

By Francesca Gosling

Sir David Attenborough has urged people to get involved with the Big Butterfly Count in the hope that this summer will see a rise in numbers of the important insect.

The national event, which launches on Friday, invites people all over the country to record how many of the winged species they can spot for the Butterfly Conservation charity.

TV nature expert and president of the organisation, Sir David said last year’s results showed one of the worst on record for butterfly numbers in the UK.

He told BBC Breakfast on Friday: “The Big Butterfly Count is to discover what is actually happening.

“Last year was the fourth worst year on record for butterflies and what we want to know is what is happening this year.

“What people can do is go into the garden, or any open sunny place, and start looking around for 15 minutes and tell us how many butterflies they saw and what kind they were.

“Even if they don’t see any at all, that’s an important piece of information.

He added that this year’s count looks “pretty promising at the moment,” partly due to the warm weather over recent weeks, adding: “Butterflies can bounce back.”

“Female butterflies lay so many eggs that if only a tiny proportion of them survive then they are doing quite well, but if conditions are good, then you will actually get a lot of butterflies of different kinds and we hope we will.”

Listing his own favourite types of the insect – which, along with bumblebees, are crucial to ecosystems – he continued: “The Peacock is one of the most beautiful, and happily one of the commoner ones.

“Red Admirals are also very exciting, but they are not doing quite as well, and then there’s the Ringlet, the Meadow Brown and the Clouded White.

“In the past there were (common and rare species) but we have gone past that situation and now, what were once common, are going up and going down.”

Kate Middleton and Sir David Attenborough meet NHM director Michael Dixon and the new whale (Yui Mok/Pool via AP)

Sir David’s live appearance form the WWT London Wetland Centre adds to a busy week for the 91-year-old naturalist, who joined the Duchess of Cambridge on Thursday night for the re-opening of the Natural History Museum’s famous Hintze Hall.

The Big Butterfly Count continues until August 6 and spotter charts are available on the Butterfly Conservation website.

PA Media

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