This year's Big Butterfly Count survey has begun, and will continue until August 7.
This nationwide annual survey was first launched in 2010 and has now become the largest of its kind in the world. The event aims to raise awareness among people about their environment. Last year, more than 52,000 people participated in the survey, counting over 580,000 butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.
According to experts, the UK's butterflies have experienced a major decline in their numbers in the last 40 years. Some common species, such as the Small Tortoiseshell, have suffered significant slumps.
Butterfly Conservation is now urging people to get involved in the survey this year by spending just 15 minutes a day to count the number and type of butterflies they see in a local park, a garden or the countryside. The charity organization says this survey would help researchers identify "trends in species" and "plan how to protect butterflies from extinction".
Legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough - president of the Butterfly Conservation - says the slow spring and wet summer this year could impact butterfly numbers as such weather reduces opportunities for these colorful insects to feed and mate. Although the month of May had a few warm weeks, June was a washout with sightings of butterflies down in many parts of the UK.
"Last year's wet and cold summer made life difficult for many of our butterflies and coupled with this year's late spring, our Red Admirals, Small Coppers, Green-veined Whites and Speckled Woods really need a boost of warm summer weather to enable them to thrive," Sir Attenborough said.
He says he has seen dwindling and diminishing of butterflies in the UK in the past few decades, and now people must ensure that "these losses are halted and reversed."
"It is vitally important that we gain a clearer picture of how our butterflies are faring. That is why taking part in the Big Butterfly Count is so important – it helps us build a picture of how butterflies are doing in our own neighborhoods and what help they need from us."
This year's Big Butterfly Count is being sponsored by John Lewis and Waitrose. Tor Harris, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at Waitrose, said they are delighted to support the annual event and hope people will get involved with the Count.
Stephen Cawley, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at John Lewis, said their participation in this year's survey is part of the education program, Bringing Skills to Life, and they have created several resources and activities to help children learn more about butterflies in the UK.
People participating in the survey can submit their sightings at www.bigbutterflycount.org or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.