Animal Environment Insect News UK

Big Butterfly Count Shows Increase in Number Found in NI

Butterfly numbers in Northern Ireland have increased but the long-term picture still shows a decline.

Almost two thousand people took part in the Big Butterfly Count 2023, with more than 18,500 butterflies and day-flying moths spotted.

The Small Tortoiseshell was the most spotted, defying the wider UK pattern.

But long-term trend figures, released for the first time, show many species have significantly decreased since the count started 13 years ago.

Butterflies are considered indicators of the health of the environment as they are very sensitive to any change.

The conservation charity Butterfly Conservation, which runs the count, said the findings showed that nature was in crisis.

A Holly Blue butterfly on a leaf

The Holly Blue and the Red Admiral were seen in record numbers across the counts that took place in Northern Ireland.

Each counter spotted an average of eight butterflies.

There were almost 95,000 participants across the UK, with more than 1.5 million butterflies and day-flying moths spotted.

The average number of butterflies seen during each 15-minute count rose to 12.

Hotter weather this summer was expected to help butterflies.

Dr Zoe Randle

Scientists at Butterfly Conservation were concerned that the drought conditions of 2022 would have a negative effect on the numbers but Dr Zoe Randle said it was not as bad as feared.

“The mixed weather this year has helped as there has been an abundance of green food plants available for caterpillars, and plenty of nectar-rich flowers for adult butterflies,” she said.

“However, while the number of butterflies recorded across the UK this summer has been the highest since 2019, the longer-term trends show worrying declines for some of the most common butterfly species.”

The top five species spotted in Northern Ireland during this year’s count were Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Peacock, Red Admiral and Large White.

Four times as many Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were seen in each individual count than in England.

Source : bbc