Attenborough urges Scots in Highlands to count butterflies

Sir David Attenborough launches the Big Butterfly Count 2015, at London Wetland Centre, on 17 July 2015.

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Sir David Attenborough is urging people across the Scottish Highlands to take part in the Big Butterfly Count this summer.

Sir David has warned that UK butterflies face a critical summer after many common species continue to decline in numbers. Last year was the fourth worst on record for butterflies.

The common blue butterfly 

Common species such as the small tortoiseshell, peacock, meadow brown and gatekeeper experienced declines in 2016, but the warm, dry spring and early summer experienced over much of the UK so far this year could offer butterflies some respite if the good weather continues.

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.

Families are being invited to take part in their gardens, local parks or at a free event at the Land, Sea and Islands Centre in Arisaig, Lochaber, from 10.30am until 4pm on Sunday July 30.

A guided butterfly walk will take place, with tea and cakes provided. Find out more at

Butterfly Conservation president Sir David said: ‘The next few weeks are a vital period for our butterflies. They need to make the most of this chance to feed and breed.

‘In the past decade our butterflies have experienced several poor years and, although resilient, they simply cannot sustain repeated losses, especially if the habitats they need in order to rebuild their populations are also under threat.

Sir David added: ‘Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count is good for butterflies and it is also good for us all.

‘The count is good for butterflies because your sightings will tell us which species need help and in which areas we need to help them.

‘But the Big Butterfly Count is also good for you because 15 minutes spent watching butterflies in the summer sunshine is priceless. Spending time with butterflies lifts the spirits and reinvigorates that sense of wonder in the natural world.’

The count runs until August 6. To take part, find a sunny spot and spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see and then submit sightings online at or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.