Northern Ireland news

Gatekeeper butterfly most spotted during this year's Big Butterfly Count

The Gatekeeper, a species often found along hedgerows and woodland rides, as well as in gardens, in the southern half of Britain, was the most spotted butterfly during this year’s Big Butterfly Count. Picture by Andrew Cooper
Marie Louise McConville

 

The Big Butterfly Count has reported a general decline, with fewer butterflies spotted overall.

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation has described the findings of the exercise, which took place between July 15 and August 7 across Northern Ireland and Britain, as "concerning".

Almost 100,000 counts were conducted, with participants spending a combined total of more than two-and-a-half years counting butterflies in their gardens, parks and in the countryside.

The Gatekeeper, a species often found along hedgerows and woodland rides, as well as in gardens, in the southern half of Britain, was the most spotted butterfly this year.

This comes after the Gatekeeper experienced its second worst Big Butterfly Count result last year.

It was good news for the blues as well with both the Common Blue and the Holly Blue species faring well.

Having had their worst results in 2021, these species appear to have bounced back.

Another winner was the Comma, a popular species often found in gardens, which saw an increase of 95 per cent compared with last year.

Species that saw a worrying decline from last year include some well-known favourites, such as Red Admiral, Small White and Meadow Brown.

Dr Richard Fox, Head of Science for Butterfly Conservation, said: "We might have expected this summer to have been a much better one for butterflies given the good weather we experienced in many parts of the UK.

"The fact that more butterflies weren’t seen is concerning and it’s clear that much more needs to be done to protect and restore habitats to aid nature recovery," he said.

"The sun could shine for days on end, but we still won’t see more butterflies unless there is habitat for them to thrive in".

Northern Ireland news