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Britons to keep track of declining butterflies

Britons have been asked to spend some time in parks and gardens and make a record of all native species of butterflies and moths, which a wildlife organisation says are on the decline in the country.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2010 16:55 IST

Britons have been asked to spend some time in parks and gardens and make a record of all native species of butterflies and moths, which a wildlife organisation says are on the decline in the country.

British citizens, including children, have been asked by the Butterfly Conservation to spend at least 15 minutes in gardens, woodlands, fields or parks between July 24 and Aug 1 and make a record for the online Big Butterfly Count, the BBC reported.

The Big Butterfly Count is tracking the butterfly population in Britain and aims to get a better understanding of which species are in need of most help. It also hopes the survey will help build a better picture of the health of the countryside and nature.

A majority of the 59 butterfly species found in Britain are on the decline, including the meadow brown, peacock, red admiral, holly blue and gatekeeper. A few smaller species have almost disappeared.

Butterflies are sensitive to changes in environment and have seen a collapse in numbers in the past three decades. Poor summer weather, loss and degradation of habitat, development of gardens and the practice of cleaning-up parks have also led to the decline.

"Reports suggest numbers of many garden species and common or widespread species are down so far this year but the warm weather will have benefited them," Richard Fox, survey manager at Butterfly Conservation, was quoted as saying.

"This year by recent standards we had a long hot spell for whole of June which, compared to the last few summers, was amazing and will have benefited the butterflies that were out and about at that time."

David Attenborough, president of Butterfly Conservation, said, "Butterflies in profusion tell us that all is well with nature. When they decline it's a warning that other wildlife will be soon heading the same way."

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