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British Naturalists Ask Public to Count Dwindling Butterflies July 20, 2012
Sir David Attenborough with butterflies
Sir David Attenborough — possibly the world's best-known host of TV nature shows — says wet weather is likely to have interfered with the butterflies' life cycle by delaying their emergence.
The British public is being asked to participate in a nationwide outdoor survey to determine if the country’s record-setting wet weather so far this year has been disastrous for butterflies.

Famed naturalist and TV personality Sir David Attenborough has asked for people to spend 15-minute periods counting as many butterflies as they can see.

The wettest April for a century and the dampest June on record has left lepidopterists wondering how Britain’s 59 butterfly species have fared.

Nearly three-quarters of the winged insects are already in decline and one-third are at risk of extinction, according to Butterfly Conservation.

The fact that every single person can produce a statistic that is of real value is a great spur,” said Attenborough.

“Many people will for the first time start taking a careful and critical view of their surroundings. The butterfly count helps butterflies but it also helps natural history and eco-sensitivity in this country.”

The group’s Big Butterfly Count asks people to record online all of the species they spot in their garden or at a local park.

Photo: Butterfly Conservation