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Sir David Attenborough launches Big Butterfly Count

Sir David Attenborough is urging people to plant butterfly-friendly flowers in their garden to help reverse declining numbers of the insects.

The naturalist made the call as he launched the annual Big Butterfly Count, in which people are asked to spot and record 18 species of common butterflies and two day-flying moths over three weeks of the summer.

The citizen science project, the world's largest butterfly survey, aims to help wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation find out how common butterfly species are faring and how to protect them in the future.

People are also being asked to look out for painted ladies, with the biggest immigration of the butterfly into the UK since 2009, when millions came over from the continent.

Sir David, who is Butterfly Conservation president, said everyone could play a part in reversing declines in butterflies, insects and other wildlife.

Gardeners should plant pots in their gardens or window ledges with nectar sources such as catmint, lavender, cranesbill, oregano and Echinacea, he urged.

The plants would provide food needed by butterflies, moths, bees and other pollinating insects and attract species such as red admirals, brimstone and green-veined whites.

Sir David said: "The UK's butterflies really need your help this summer. Three-quarters are in decline and one-third in danger of extinction.

"The ongoing and alarming loss of their habitat is a major and worrying factor in their falling numbers.

"But by taking one simple step you can help to reverse this loss. Plant a few pots in your garden or on your window ledge with the right plants and you can provide butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects with a lifeline of food and shelter.

"It's up to every single one of us to make sure that the spectacle of mid-summer butterflies remains a much anticipated highlight of the season rather than becoming a long-mourned memory.

"Make yours a butterfly summer by getting out for the Count."

Around 45,000 people took part in 2014's Big Butterfly Count, spotting almost 560,000 butterflies.

Last year's count showed the small tortoiseshell was continuing its fightback after severe declines which saw its population plummet 78% since the 1970s.

Its numbers rose by almost a quarter in 2014 compared to 2013, making it the fourth most commonly seen species in the count - its highest ever ranking.

The peacock was the most abundant butterfly counted by people in the survey.

:: The count runs from July 17 to August 9, and people just have to find a sunny place and spend 15 minutes counting every butterfly seen, and submit sightings online at


From Belfast Telegraph