NATURALIST Chris Packham has launched this year's Big Butterfly Count.

The annual citizen science event, organised by the Lulworth-based Butterfly Conservation, had more than 113,000 participants last year.

It is hoped the fine springtime weather will have helped butterflies this year.

Chris Packham said: "While so many of us have had a bit more time to appreciate the nature on our doorsteps during the lockdown period, and learning about the natural world has been a mindful distraction from uncertainty, this is a real chance to do something positive and contribute to conserving nature.

"Butterflies and moths are key indicators of the health of our environment and anyone can help contribute to our understanding of these incredible creatures by taking part in in the Big Butterfly Count.

“The sightings you submit will be used to map and measure populations and the geographic spread of species across the UK.

"We’re asking everyone who have been given a helping hand from nature this year to return the favour.”

The count works by individuals giving up 15 minutes of their free time to count the amount and type of butterflies – and some day-flying moths – in an outdoors space.

Dr Zoë Randle, senior surveys officer at Butterfly Conservation said: “We’re excited to find out the results from the Big Butterfly Count this year.

"The very sunny spring weather meant that almost all butterfly species have emerged early this summer, so we’re hoping for some interesting data.

"As our weather patterns change it’s more important than ever for us to be able capture this information.

“We’ve seen an incredible amount of interest from people who have been out and about in their gardens and local areas spotting butterflies for the first time.

"From children learning about the lifecycle of a butterfly from a caterpillar found in their own back gardens to adults who have spotted a fluttering Red Admiral while exercising outside instead of at the gym.

"Nature has really shown its true value to us this year, but it is still under threat.

"Now, more than ever, we must all do our little bit to protect it."

The Big Butterfly Count is open to everyone, from ages from 3 to 103.