Sir David Attenborough is calling on the public to help reverse butterfly declines by planting nectar sources for pollinating insects in their gardens.
Launching citizen science project – the Big Butterfly Count, the Butterfly Conservation President declared that everybody could play a part in reversing the declines of butterflies and other wildlife.
The Big Butterfly Count is the world’s largest butterfly survey which encourages people to spot and record 18 species of common butterflies and two day-flying moths during three weeks of high summer.
To give butterflies a helping hand during the Count and throughout the rest of the season, Sir David is calling on nature lovers to plant pots in their gardens or window ledges with nectar sources such as Catmint, Lavender, Cranesbill, Oregano and Echinacea.
Around 45,000 people took part in last year’s Big Butterfly Count, spotting almost 560,000 butterflies. The results of the survey help wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation find out how our common butterfly species are faring and how best to protect them in the future.
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.”
Nature lovers are also being asked to look out for Painted Lady butterflies that are currently experiencing their largest immigration into the UK since 2009 when millions arrived from the continent.
Last year’s Big Butterfly Count revealed that the Small Tortoiseshell was continuing its fight back after years of decline. The butterfly, whose population has plummeted by 78% since the 1970s, saw numbers rise by almost a quarter compared to the summer of 2013 making it the fourth most commonly seen Big Butterfly Count species - its highest ever ranking.
Last summer was also good for Peacock, which was the most abundant Count butterfly.
The Count runs from 17 July to 9 August. Taking part in the Count is easy - find a sunny place and spend just 15 minutes counting every butterfly seen and then submit sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org
WWT Chief Executive Martin Spray said: “I’m delighted to be able to support this wonderful project. Your local wetland centre is a great place to see loads of butterfly species.
“At London Wetland Centre alone we’ve got at least 25 types of day-flying butterflies and moths including skippers and a lovely golden butterfly called a Gatekeeper that loves to bask in the sun around the visitor centre.”