Stop squabbling over Brexit and start counting butterflies, says Sir David Attenborough

Naturalist encourages people to forget political woes and take part in mass conservation project

Colin Drury
Friday 20 July 2018 11:10 BST
Stop squabbling over Brexit and start counting butterflies, says Sir David Attenborough on BBC Radio 4 Today

Sir David Attenborough has urged people to stop squabbling about Brexit - and start counting butterflies.

The legendary naturalist called on the British public to forget their political woes by taking part in the world’s biggest ever butterfly survey.

He was speaking in support of a nationwide scheme in which wildlife-lovers are asked to spot and record online the different species of the unique insect they see in their garden.

The 92-year-old said: “I’m asking people to turn their mind away from the squabbles and problems of what is facing us with Brexit, sit in a quiet place where the sun is shining and see how many butterflies come, and count them.”

The huge exercise – being coordinated by Butterfly Conservation – is designed to increase conservation knowledge about the unique insect.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir David said: “It is good for people just to forget about the wore of Brexit and other woes they may see politically around the world and just concentrate on the natural world that was here before us and will be here after us, and just look at the simple pleasures in your garden.”

He added: “It is calming for the soul and spirit and good for us all, just to relax, just to take it easy for 15 minutes but with a serious objective in mind.”

This year's weather conditions have created the right conditions for butterflies to flourish, and the common blue (pictured) is among the species expected to fare particularly well (PA)

This will be the ninth year the Big Butterfly Count has taken place after launching in 2010. Some 60,000 wildlife-lovers recorded their findings last year – but organisers are hoping for even more his time round.

People are asked to take note for 17 particular species – including holly blue, common white, common blue and red admirals – for the next three weeks, from today until August 12.

The majority of butterfly species have been in decline in the UK for the past 40 years.

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And, while this year’s warm weather provides optimum conditions for the insect to flourish, there are fears that if the summer stays too hot for too long, it could cause further decline.

During the droughts brought on by the scorching summer of 1976, butterfly numbers plummeted dramatically because of lack of food.

Sir David said: “I have been privileged to have witnessed some truly breath-taking wildlife spectacles in far-flung locations but some of my most memorable experiences have happened when I've been simply sitting and watching the wildlife that lives where I do."

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