Forget Brexit for a while and count the butterflies, Attenborough tells Brits

Keep calm and… count butterflies says David Attenborough amid Brexit ‘squabbles

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

The veteran wildlife presenter said that spending time with nature offered "precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life".

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

He urged people to take part in an annual butterfly count, which runs from today until August 12, because they may be surprised by what they see in their own garden.

There's a matter of urgency with the 2018 version as most naturally occurring species of butterfly in the United Kingdom are in long-term decline, with the recent heat-wave making matters potentially worse this year.

The UK has experienced the right combination of a cold winter and a settled late spring and summer so far this year, enabling spring butterflies to thrive.

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He said: "A cause for great concern over recent years is that many of our once common and widespread species like the large white, small copper and gatekeeper have started to struggle, mirroring the declines of rarer species".

Described as "taking the pulse" of nature, butterflies are one of the species that react very quickly to change in their environment, making them excellent biodiversity indicators.

Despite the largest number of people taking part in the survey a year ago the average number of butterflies seen per 15 minute count was the lowest recorded since the survey started. It says a decline in butterflies is "an early warning" of other wildlife losses.

To take part in the Count, find a sunny spot anywhere in the United Kingdom and spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see and then submit sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.

In 2017, altogether, 62,547 counts were submitted by over 60,400 participants, a 64 per cent increase in the number of counts and a 66 per cent increase in the number of people taking part compared with 2016.

The public are being encouraged to take part in the Big Butterfly Count over the next three weeks to help experts see how butterflies are faring and to enjoy the mental health benefits of watching wildlife.

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