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Environment

David Attenborough Literally Wants You to Count Butterflies to Distract From Brexit

Sir David Attenborough stands with a hand on one hip, half a cerulean blue collar poking mischievously from a cream golf jumper.

"I did it in my garden,” Attenborough says — somewhat seductively, some might say. “Where are you going to do yours?"

Attenborough is, of course, talking about counting butterflies.

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The nation’s heartthrob has joined the Butterfly Conservation in urging the whole country to take up the world’s largest butterfly count — and it will only take you 15 minutes.

Just head outside, look for one of 17 species of butterfly, and record your findings online.

The Big Butterfly Count happens every year, but is particularly important in 2018: Britain has become a butterfly utopia this summer, as the heatwave has brought the best conditions for them to thrive in over a decade.

But too much of a good thing could lead to a drought, according to the Guardian, and that could be disastrous for their food chain.

Despite a record 60,000 people joining the count in 2017, there were fewer sightings per 15-minute period than any year since the survey started in 2010. That’s largely because it was the wettest summer in a century.

Britain is home to 59 species of butterfly, according to the Butterfly Conservation, and 76% are in decline because their natural habitats face deterioration or destruction. Five species have already become extinct over the last 150 years: the Mazarine blue, large tortoiseshell, black-veined white, large copper, and large blue.

Read More: Why David Attenborough Wants Everyone to Leave a Spoonful of Sugar in Their Garden

“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,” said Attenborough, also president of the charity. “Butterfly Conservation has also revealed that butterflies are declining faster in our towns and cities than in the countryside.”

“So please take part in the Big Butterfly Count this summer,” he added. “We need to know, now, more than ever before, just what is happening to butterflies in our towns, in our gardens, and in our countryside.”

But it’s not just about the butterflies: Attenborough said it’ll help take your mind off Brexit, too.

"I'm asking people turn their mind away from squabbles and problems about what's facing us with Brexit, sit in a quiet place where the sun is shining and see how many butterflies come, and count them,” Attenborough said on BBC Radio 4’s Today show.

"I know there are some experts who have done scientific research and they've discovered that actually it is good for people just to forget about the woes of Brexit and any whatever other woes they may see politically around the world, and just concentrate on the natural world that was here before us and will be here after us.”

Read More: 10 Moments When David Attenborough Made Us Swoon

"And that simple pleasures of looking at butterflies in the garden is calming to the soul and spirit and good for us all,” he added.

One such expert is mental health charity Mind, who said that it’s a “wonderful way of interacting with the environment.” The BBC also reports that nature can help alleviate depression and anxiety.

Just like how we feel when we watch Attenborough’s documentaries, then.

Oh look, a red admiral!