During July and August we are encouraging you to get outside in Fermanagh and discover a local species! This week for our ‘Find it in Fermanagh’ series we are encouraging you to take part in the Big Butterfly Count by Butterfly Conservation!
Why count butterflies?
Butterflies are vital parts of the ecosystem as both pollinators and components of the food chain. They are key biodiversity indicators for scientists as they react very quickly to changes in their environment. However, since the 1970s numbers of butterflies and moths, as well as other pollinators, in the UK have decreased significantly.
What to look out for?
Butterfly Conservation have provided a helpful identification sheet for butterflies commonly seen in Northern Ireland. County Fermanagh boasts a wide variety of butterfly species, including the rare Marsh Fritillary. This is a threatened species in need of urgent conservation action across most of Europe. Once found right across Northern Ireland, it is now confined to a few small sites in the east – in Down, Antrim and Armagh – and to several larger areas in west Tyrone and Fermanagh.
Check out this information PDF for more info https://butterfly-conservation.org/sites/default/files/ni-marsh-frit-leaflet-july-2010.pdf
How to take part?
Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather. The Big Butterfly Count runs from 18th to 31st July 2021. We have chosen this time of year because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens, to fields and forests!
If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once.
If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.
If you have spotted species which are not on our target species list here is a handy way you can record them too using the iRecord Butterflies App.
Also please remember that if you don’t see any butterflies then let us know that too. It is very important that we know if there are areas where butterflies are not being seen – this may indicate a wider problem.
Download our handy identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen.
Whilst you are out why not send us some of your photos of butterflies you see! Post on any of our social media channels with the hashtag #lelpfinditinfermanagh.