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Save Dunmanus Bay

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Irish Butterfly Survey

We all like the Butterflies in our garden. We love their bright colour, how these can sparkle on a dull day, when some Butterflies still choose to fly, about the Flowers in our gardens, along the road, or down in the fields or woodlands. Even down at the coast I often see them, where Butterflies like Small Tortoise Shell, gorge themselves on the rich nectar of Sea Asters and the many other flowers which have chosen the inside of the bay as their habitat. The large umbels of Alexanders too, attract many Insects, their tall heads softly swaying in the sea breeze as they clamp their many legs on the little white flowers, making up the umbel.

Numbers have dwindled however, and it is very sad that the whole of Europe is losing many of its Butterflies.
With such extreme weather patterns and colder winters means that many are lost. in hibernation. Without counting them, we won't know if all species are affected equally, or if it hits certain species more than others. And the only way we can find out this, is by counting them between April and September.
Britain was the first in counting their Butterflies in 1976. The favoured methodology is where volunteers walk certain transects. They each walk their chosen 1-1.5 km., once a week .Recording every Butterfly they see, it will soon become apparent when the volunteer spots less during his or her walk than on previous walks. And also where numbers and which species are down on previous weeks.
If you think that you like to look out for these beautiful creatures, during your daily walk, you can sign up with the Irish Butterfly monitoring scheme
As I reported last year, Ireland has now 3 new Butterfly species breeding in this country, which was very good news indeed. (However, we do have to make special efforts not to destroy their habitats just after them moving in. )

You do not need any special skill to take part as volunteer. Each one will receive a booklet and identification charts are supplied as well as notes and there are very good field guides on the market.
The Butterflies are recorded between April and September, and you can still sign up. It being quite late by now, you'd probably best contact one of thde regional contacts which you can find on here on the Scheme's Contact Page

In Tipperary, you can sign up with the Tipperary Insttute Biodiversity and Research.

Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta

Last year I had many Moths visiting my kitchen, most of which were Small Magpies. This year my kitchen had been strangely empty without these little flyers, these first few months of 2009.
So I was very pleased to spot the first one of the year.

The Small Magpie Moth, Eurrhypara hortulata

Don't you love her silver and longlegs, LOL! And she is right too, to show it off like this.

The Moth was, however, anxious to get back outside, and when I placed the tub out in a plantpot, among the Fatsia leaves where it was sheltered from the wind and hidden from predators, it took its time before deciding to fly off eventually.


  1. I've had some magpie moths here this spring. First time I've seen them. They're very pretty.

  2. Have you seen the Macro (big) ones or the Micro (small) ones? We only have the Small Magpie Moths here. They love Stinging Nettle.


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