What is the prettiest animal? Is it a peacock? A white tiger? A flamingo? No, it is a butterfly. Butterflies are never anything less than tip-top in the style stakes. Shame then, that they’re all dying, and soon they’ll be gone – their fashion legacy lost to the wind, left to the unqualified moths to take over. Don’t let the moths have it, we can’t let the moths win.
David Attenborough – a man who quite likes animals, it must be said – has spoken out about their plight. Sir David, who is actually president of Butterfly Conservation, 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.
“Last year, despite a warm summer, butterflies like the Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper saw their numbers fall as a warm winter and cold spring earlier in the year led to problems that affected their numbers later on.
“Worryingly, we are now seeing the fortunes of some of our once common butterflies mirror those of our rarest species and they too are now also suffering significant declines with butterflies declining more rapidly in urban areas than in the countryside.
“In the last 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.”
In the last 40 years, almost three quarters of the UK’s butterflies have declined, which is a pretty steep drop, and a descent that needs to be stemmed.
But there’s a potential solution – The Big Butterfly Count – and you can get involved. Dave says:
“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.”
All you’ve got to do is head on over here and get yourself a butterfly chart, then skip off out and count some butterflies. It’s pretty easy, counting butterflies, because they all look different – it’s not like counting ants for example, that’s way harder. It’s running until 6 August, so get those eyes clapped on some wings, sharpish – the future of the butterfly population is in your hands.
(Images: Rex / Creative Commons)