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25 Sept 2022

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Help us to monitor local butterfly populations

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Help us to monitor local butterfly populations

The brimstone butterfly. Picture: Catherine O'Connell

This week is the first week of the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Butterfly Monitoring Scheme 2022.

Over the next 26 weeks the Irish Peatland Conservation Council will be walking a designated route on Lullymore West Bog Nature Reserve identifying and counting the populations and variety of butterflies present.

We are excited to discover what we might find in 2022 as last year we identified a butterfly that had not been recorded on the reserve before, the Comma. The monitoring of butterflies is weather dependent. The ideal time to survey butterflies is between 11am and 4pm. Your chosen day should also be calm, dry and bright.

You might be asking, why is it important to monitor butterflies? Firstly, butterflies are pollinators and without pollination of crops our food would not grow.

Butterflies are invertebrates (an animal without a backbone) and therefore part of the food chain. As invertebrates they are a valuable source of food for birds living in our communities. We also know a lot about their life cycle and, along with the fact that their life cycle is short, butterflies are known as indicators of environmental changes.

Monitoring butterfly populations can help us to better understand our local environment and how we can help it to thrive.

This week I identified one of the first butterflies to emerge each year, the brimstone (buíóg ruibheach as Gaeilge).

This butterfly is easily identified with its sulphur yellow–green colouring and pointed wing shape.

It has a wide distribution in Ireland, however it is only common is areas that have the food plant of the caterpillars present. The caterpillars feed on buckthorn or alder and unless these are growing in your garden, or community park in an urban area, this butterfly will not be present.

You are invited to join the butterfly monitoring at Lullymore West. Simply call the centre on 045 860133 to check which day of the week has been chosen to complete the survey.

Will you identify the brimstone butterfly in your community this week?

Don’t forget if you come across a wildlife species that you would like help identifying, I would be happy to help.

You can contact me at bogs@ipcc.ie.

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