The world’s biggest butterfly count got under way this week, with David Attenborough urging people to spend 15 minutes observing their nearest sunny, dry patch of garden or meadow-if you can find one-for the number and variation of butterflies on it. Butterflies are likely to be badly affected by this soaking summer, which will delay their emergence period, thus reducing their life span, and hamper mating and egg-laying, leading to a reduced population next year (The nature of things, page 30). Last year, 34,000 people participated in the count. Record sightings on www.bigbutterflycount.org; the survey ends on August 5.

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