The best place in Ireland to spot butterflies is… Laois!
And that’s official, not just hearsay.
For the second year in succession Laois has won the bragging rights for nature lovers as the county has topped the #ButterflyBash survey.
The reputable survey is one of a number co-ordinated by Biodiversity Ireland which manages the country’s biodiversity data centre. This particular research occurs in tandem with national Heritage Week. Butterfly monitoring usually takes place through a variety of methods from April to September annually.
In its newsletter Biodiversity Ireland stated:
‘Congratulations go to Laois for the second year running for coming top of the table of counties recording butterflies during this the 2019 Butterfly Bash. Support for the Butterfly Bash effectively doubled this year and this was reflected in the overall tally of 3324 records collected by 351 recorders across Heritage Week this year compared to 1740 records by 187 recorders last year!
‘A sincere thank you to everyone in achieving this is an amazing level of recording over such a short period of time and for your generous contribution to the Butterfly Atlas 2021. Last year was an excellent year for Irish butterflies with populations up by 29% on previous years, so it’s an even greater achievement that double the number of butterfly records were submitted this year.’
Laois had 665 recordings in this year’s survey compared with 288 last year.
In second place is Kildare, the home of butterfly conservation Ireland with 475 recorded sightings; Cork 320; Offaly 227; Wexford 181 and Dublin with 149.
One of the leading authorities on butterflies in the country Dr Tomás Murray indicates that overall the status of butterflies is registering slight declines.
“Nationally we can state that butterflies are in moderate decline (ca. -0.5% per annum), which equates to a ca. 6% loss over the last 11 years. Across Europe, we’ve lost 39% of our grassland butterfly populations since 1990, but last year (2018) was a fantastic year for them in Ireland with populations up by 29% above baseline.”
Twenty-seven of Ireland’s 35 butterfly species can be found in Laois. Of these, 32 are resident and 3 are common migrants. There are some places particularly good for spotting butterflies in the county including the Slieve Blooms and Abbeyleix Bog. This year was good once again for butterflies with a later flutter of butterflies on the wing over the past ten days due to the Indian summer.
Butterflies are regarded for their aesthetic, ecological, educational and economic value. Can you identify these species pictured in Laois in recent weeks?
As for those who want to help support butterfly conservation, Dr Murray advises: “Become lazy gardeners! The vast majority of actions outlined for gardeners and community groups at www.pollinators.ie will also help butterflies and Butterfly Conservation Ireland, based in Kildare, also have some great actions on their website: https://butterflyconservation.ie/wp/butterflies/gardening-for-butterflies/