July Butterflies

Based on four key climatic indicators, temperature, sunshine, rainfall and wind speed, the favourability index for butterflies is highest in June, July and August. More species fly in July than any other month. Thirty-one species are in flight in July, with some species having their abundance peak in July. The Comma first generation, the Silver-washed and Dark Green Fritillaries, Essex and Small Skipper hit their numerical heights in July.

Here we profile a selection of July flyers.

Silver-washed Fritillary

A large, colourful and magnificent butterfly, its flight is powerful and elegant. Whether in level or climbing flight, the Silver-washed Fritillary scores highly on pace and agility. The courtship flight is utterly unforgettable, a picture of synchronised romance, a complex ritual that has captivated generations of butterfly lovers. The female flies in a level flight, as if totally oblivious to the male, who loops repeatedly under her, then up in front of her. Woodland rides and clearing are the venues for this dance, while pairing follows in a tree, shrub, on Bracken, and occasionally on the ground.

Where to find the Silver-washed Fritillary

Open woodland, with violets plentiful in clearings and in the interior of the wood. Knocksink Wood, Enniskerry, County Wicklow, the woods around Lough Leane in Killarney, County Kerry, the oak woods at Crom in Fermanagh, Ravenwood in Wexford, the Furry Glen in the Phoenix Park, Dublin and woods with native trees and sunlit woodland floors containing violets, its larval food, throughout the country.


A striking butterfly, known by its underside hindwing comma marking, is perhaps the most interesting mid-summer species. Why?

It hatches in two forms, a dark form, which has an upperside ground colour of orange-red, and a light form, a golden coloured Comma named the hutchinsoni form (the hutchinsoni form, shown above, also has an underside that is lighter in colour) after Emma Hutchinson who bred the species in Herefordshire, one of its last British strongholds in the late nineteenth century. Unbelievably given its abundance in Britain today, and its increasing presence in many areas in eastern Ireland south of Louth and into the Irish midlands and beyond, it was believed to be on the brink of extinction in Britain in the 1880s, for reasons unknown. It was unknown in Ireland until 1998.

Emma Hutchinson bred vast numbers of Commas and sent them to areas of England it disappeared from. One such county is Surrey but despite a large release, the Comma did not repopulate the county.

A feature Emma Hutchinson noted is the butterfly’s ability to adapt to weather conditions by producing two forms; the golden form is produced following springs and early summers with warm weather and the darker form arises when conditions are cloudy, dull, and cool. The dark-form Commas don’t breed in the year of their birth, but feed briefly and hibernate. The golden Commas breed on emergence, taking advantage of fine summer weather. All offspring of the golden Commas are dark, fly in autumn and pass the winter as adult butterflies. Good spring and summer weather produces more golden Commas and two generations. Cold summers lead to fewer golden Commas, more dark Commas, and a small second generation. This account of the adaptable breeding strategy is more complex than stated here but this general outline holds good for most of our Commas.

The Comma breeds on Stinging Nettles and larvae have recently (May 2023) been recorded on elm.

 Where to find the Comma

Still scarce or absent from most of Ireland, the Comma is still expanding its Irish range following its establishment in the southeast early this century. It is common in woods in Counties Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford, Kildare and Dublin, where it is found in wooded areas such as open woodland, hedged lanes, tree-lines along rivers and other waterways, mature wooded gardens throughout these counties. Elsewhere, it is becoming more numerous although it is still not abundant. In the last few years, it has reached Counties Limerick, Clare and Down and this westwards and northwards march is expected to continue. It is most evident in March-May, July and September and October.

Dark Green Fritillary

If this butterfly was a Premier League footballer, it would be a tricky, pacy winger, dashing towards goal, showing dramatic and unexpected changes of direction while at other times being more direct but always dynamic. A large, hyperactive and dazzlingly fast butterfly, it is a stunning sight when freshly emerged. The males will battle strong winds on cliffs and hills, eye-catchers who swoop and dive, passing in and out of view. The male is a deep, shining orange marked with black ticks, dots and chevrons. The female is more sedentary, darker, and highly variable. Typically, she is a duller orange with enlarged dark markings. Underside hindwings are green with spangled with reflective silver.

Where to find the Dark Green Fritillary

This butterfly likes flower-rich locations. The Burren, in Counties Clare and Galway, Sheskinmore in County Donegal, and Ballyteigue Burrow on the south County Wexford coast are among its key locations in Ireland. Coastal areas, especially vegetated sand dunes are also good places to look for it. This butterfly is highly vulnerable to agricultural intensification. Flower-filled grasslands lose their value for this butterfly when fertiliser or slurry is applied. It needs unspoiled grasslands rich in violets, its breeding plant, for its survival.

 Wood White

This butterfly usually has two generations a year. Found in the areas of contiguous exposed carboniferous limestone from south of the Burren northwards close to the southern border of County Mayo, this small unspotted white is notable for its low, floppy flight, a soporific sight on a hot, sticky day in late July. Breeding on vetches growing among scrub on hot dry limestone habitats, it is one of our rarer butterflies and should be monitored. The first flight is usually in May and the second flight is in mid/late July to mid-August.

Just one interesting feature is that the female appears to have poor botanical skills. She frequently tests the wrong plants before eventually finding the correct larval foodplant on which to lay an egg.  She searches in the right places but often alights on plants that are not even related to vetches. She’s not alone in her confusion. Her relative, the single-brooded Cryptic Wood White (which usually flies from May-early July), which looks identical, does the same!

The main foodplants observed being used in Ireland are Meadow Vetchling, Tufted Vetch, and Bitter Vetch.

Where do find the Wood White

The Burren area where open scrub on limestone pavement contains vetches and other flowers is its stronghold in Ireland but it has been confirmed on western limestones elsewhere such as around Ennis further south in County Clare and in limestone habitats around Lough Corrib, such as west of Lough Corrib at M 19532 40634, in the Carrowmoreknock area. It might also occur at Lough Carra, County Mayo.

Purple Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak male above and female below.

Unless a dedicated search of oak woodland, usually with binoculars, is made, you are very unlikely to see this small but beautiful creature. Both sexes have silver undersides but the darker undersides are tinted violet in the male and purple in his mate. Here we show both sexes to illustrate the differences. The butterfly is known for occupying positions often very high up on oaks and for being very active during the evenings. They are also known to be nocturnal, although I don’t know the extent of their activity after dark.  I have seen it fly in almost complete darkness and it is attracted to light traps set for moths.

The oak woods in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Tomies Wood, Killarney, County Kerry, and oak woods in Wicklow such as Glendalough and Glen of the Downs are good places to look for them. Scan the canopy for the butterfly during sunny weather, especially after 5 pm. It’s about the size of the Common Blue butterfly.

Enjoy watching butterflies this summer, and be sure to let us know about your butterfly records. You can find out how to send us your observations under the Records tab on this website.

All photographs © J. Harding



National Peatlands Park

To the Waters and the Wild

By Jesmond Harding

Conservation Officer, Butterfly Conservation Ireland

Lullybeg lake.

There are very few places that you can visit nowadays and feel refreshed and relaxed by the natural abundance on offer. Patrick Kavanagh, perhaps our only truly spiritual poet, wrote about life’s simple experiences in such terms in Advent:

O after Christmas we’ll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We’ll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we’ll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.

Denial brings fresh appreciation. Forget the phone, forget your agenda, plans, work schedule, worries and deadlines.

Bring the technology you were born with. Let your vision, hearing, touch and nose apprehend the experience of a day on the bog in northwest Kildare. You will not hear the drone of jet aircraft, or the din of road traffic, no traffic jams, or crowds. No human infrastructure; no roads, telegraph poles, pylons, masts, or buildings. Just a vast, gentle landscape as far as you can see, leafy, grassy, flower-filled, fragrance-filled, birdsong and butterfly and dragonfly-filled, happily and softly moist underfoot.

Brimstone butterflies, rare or absent in most of Ireland, flourish at Ballydermot.

You don’t have to try to be happy here. Anyone I had the privilege of showing the area to were smitten. People of all ages love this land of plenty. People kneel to get eye-to-eye with a Marsh Fritillary butterfly, resting on a leaf, waiting for the sun. He perches, wings closed, brick-red with cream markings, letting you admire him. He is unhurried and unworried. What will be will be. He doesn’t know that he is represented in Ireland as a genetically distinct subspecies, that he is red-listed, or that his habitats are being destroyed throughout Ireland, Britain and Europe.

The Marsh Fritillary thrives in Ballydermot where it occupies many areas across the landscape.

He is safe here, with his exacting bucket of ecological needs met on a grand scale in this biodiverse landscape. But how long will that last?

When the sun shines, the landscape listens. It wakes up. Silence is filled with bird and insect songs. That perched Marsh Fritillary opens his wings, a glistening stained glass window shines, glittering with colour, a spiritual moment of brightening, glowing colour. This intricate lattice is worthy of Harry Clarke’s genius. The kneeling observer gasps with delight. Photographs are taken.

He is in the best of company. Twenty-four other butterfly species make up the cast of characters, including other red-listers: Dark Green Fritillary, Wall Brown and Large Heath.

When there is this level of butterfly biodiversity in any place, it’s indicative of so much more. Hundreds of moth species call this home. Included are rarities like Waved Carpet, Small Chocolate-tip, Hedge Rustic, threatened moths like Forester Moth, Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet, a black red-spotted day-flyer, flourish here.

Hairy Dragonflies love boglands.

The hum of insects from March to October is an experience in itself. Immersion in this landscape will make the findings of Queen’s University that nearly half the world’s animals are declining hard to believe. For these bogs are a world in themselves, constituting a vast landscape of around 6000 hectares of bog, forests, lakes, rivers, pools, marsh, grassland and intimate mosaics of these habitats, acting as a landscape of scale for the burgeoning biodiversity that makes the bogs of northwest Kildare and east Offaly (collectively known as the Ballydermot Bog Group) home.

The bogs are refugia for species driven from industrialised farmland. The relative importance of the bogs has increased biological desertification strips the surrounding farmed countryside of biodiversity.

Whatever you love in nature, there’s much on offer here: birds include Curlew, Skylark, Whooper Swan, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Woodcock, Goshawk and Lapwing, to name just a few. Indeed, the area holds 18% of Ireland’s red-listed birds (birds of high conservation concern) and 19% of our amber-listed birds (birds of medium conservation concern).

Mammals are well-represented: Fox, Badger, Stoat, Red Squirrel, Bank Vole and Pine Marten all occur.

Badgers are secure at Ballydermot, free from persecution. Photo Pat Wyse.

A great well-being boost flows knowing that you are in a place where nature thrives, but the attractions and benefits extend far beyond an empathetic experience. The sheer vastness of sky, water and greenery casts off confinement. Imagination and freedom await the wanderer. You can ramble for hours unobstructed, happy and fulfilled. You are one hour from Dublin but when here you are far from the world of work, small talk and the drone of lawnmowers. You can be yourself here.

Eyed Hawkmoths thrive on the native trees at Ballydermot.

The deepening crisis of biodiversity collapse and the sundering of nature’s protective balm, all our fault, makes this place more important and its care more urgent. A plan exists to fragment the bog with 60 km of infrastructure to serve a proposed 47 wind turbines with a tip height of 200-220 metres. Drainage and habitat fragmentation threaten this magnificent landscape, instead of peat re-wetting and preservation.

This would be a disaster for the wilderness atmosphere and biodiversity and peatland restoration.

All these values are critically needed. According to the EPA Boglands Report 2011, the most important function of peatlands regarding future climate change is that of a carbon store and sink. Covering only about 3% of the Earth’s land area, they hold the equivalent of half of the carbon that is in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2). It is estimated that the carbon stored in peatlands represents some 25% of the world soil carbon pool (i.e., 3–3.5 times the amount of carbon stored in tropical rainforests.

By protecting and restoring the peatlands in Ireland and elsewhere, a major contribution to dealing with our global ecological crises will be made. It is craziness to destroy a carbon-sequestering, biodiverse peatland to create ‘clean energy’ as if this compensates for CO2 and Methane (CH4) emissions and biodiversity destruction.

A solution is now available. This state-owned land, which belongs to the nation, should be made available to the nation as a new national park. This proposal is backed by the environmental NGOs and described to the minister responsible for our natural heritage, Malcolm Noonan. Following our three-year campaign, Kildare County Council has now included the Peatlands Park in the County Development Plan 2023-2029, critically designating 70% of Kildare’s cut-away bog for biodiversity and carbon sequestration (Kildare County Development Plan p. 300) This is a major first step in biodiversity and habitat recovery for the county and will also contribute to meeting EU legal targets and objectives under the new EU Nature Restoration Regulation.

The Silver-washed Fritillary occurs in the new native woods developing at Ballydermot.

What can I do to help?

You can show your support. Please sign the petition by No Planet B, a youth club engaged in environmental issues, which met Minister Noonan and Kildare County Council to ask for a national park. Sign their petition at https://www.change.org/p/support-the-proposal-for-the-national-peatlands-park?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_33668679_en-GB%3A8&recruiter=1269044088&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

Visit the area. A great portal is the Irish Peatland Conservation Council’s Bog of Allen Nature Centre in Lullymore, and the Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park. Check the Events calendar on Butterfly Conservation Ireland’s website (https://butterflyconservation.ie/wp/) for a chance to visit the area to see its butterflies. The National Peatlands Park website has more information: https://www.nationalpeatlandspark.com. You can let Ministers Ryan and Noonan know that you support our proposal by contacting them: minister.ryan@decc.gov.ie malcolm.noonan@housing.gov.ie

The National Peatlands Strategy 2015 promoted the concept of a National Peatland Park. The Review of the Strategy, considering different policies, programmes, and plans that came into existence since the Strategy was published, includes the prioritised action to “conduct a feasibility study on the creation of a national peatlands/wetlands park” in 2023. In addition, the  EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 will require the protection of more land.

It is time for this concept to be a reality. We don’t have a national park based on raised bog habitat.

It is time we did.

Crabtree River, Ballydermot.

All photos copyright J. Harding except where otherwise stated.






Event Report: Moth Morning 17th June 2023

The prolonged period of dry mainly sunny weather ended with a tremendous downpour on the night and morning of our moth event on Saturday 17th of June. It didn’t stop the moths from thronging at the Heath and Robinsons Light traps on Kilberry Bog in south Kildare. The richness of the habitats, especially flower-rich wet grassland and native woodland, the warmth (15 Celsius at 4:30 am on Saturday), and the lure of the light traps brought great abundance and variety.

Poplar Grey. This moth breeds on Poplars (Populus).Photo Philip Strickland.

We had an outdoor shelter in which to examine the contents of the traps which were opened from 7:15 am. The range of colour, body and wing shape of these largely unfamiliar nocturnal ‘butterflies’ (moths and butterflies are members of the same invertebrate order, all are lepidopterans) are wonders in themselves.

Poplar Hawkmoth, female. This large moth is widespread in Ireland and Britain. It particularly favours using willows for breeding. Photo J. Harding.

The rain poured unrelentingly as if to mock the dry, sunny weather we have enjoyed since the 8th of May. This was the first time this year that I have seen several species in abundance. It highlights just how crucial our peatlands are for biodiversity.

We found about 160 species in the traps. The large, dramatic moths drew the most attention initially; the robust weirdly shaped Poplar Hawkmoths, the subtly spectacular Elephant Hawkmoths (named for their larvae’s elephantine appearance), the startling eye-flashing pose struck by alarmed Eyed Hawkmoths, and the bizarrely accurate cigarette butt/broken birch twig imitation intimated by the Buff-tip.

Eyed Hawkmoth, male. Photo J. Harding.

The names of our moths, often by Victorian Anglican clergy are often nicely descriptive and occasionally comparative. The White Ermine makes sense; the moth is snow white or pale cream with black spots or ovals, closely resembling black-spotted white fur worn by royalty. The Buff Ermine moth, similar-sized, and similarly shaped, is buff in colour, sometimes deeper yellow, but lacks the extent of spotting found in its white relative.

The Lilac Beauty lives up to its name. The crimpled forewing adds interest and variety to its outline. Photo J. Harding

Bright-line Brown-eye and Brown-line Bright-eye (the latter not seen but good tongue-twisters) are species whose appearance matches their names. Some have names that don’t complement their looks. Mottled and Willow Beauty moths are not beautiful but rather dowdy. Squinting at the lower crossline on the forewing upperside is needed to separate them. However, both possess nicely scalloped wing outlines and blend well on bark and rock.

Clouded Border is another aptly named moth. The spotting on this specimen is not often seen but was noted on several examples in Kilberry. The larvae feed on sallow (Salix) and poplars (Populus), especially aspen (Populus tremula). Photo J. Harding

Cinnabars were found in all the traps, and we even found larvae on ragwort near a trap; this smartly dressed species, named for its red markings which refer to mercury sulfide, remains a widespread moth. Eye-catching, especially in flight, it is rarely accosted by birds because they dislike the taste. It is attacked occasionally but birds that do learn not to repeat their assault.

Celypha cespitana is a very local micro-moth found on limestone and sand dunes. There is enough calcareous substrate in the Kilberry Bog area to support its foodplants. Photo Philip Strickland.

More eye-catching species are the emeralds, named for being emerald! The Large Emerald, Common Emerald, Light Emerald Grass Emerald, and Little Emerald were all marked present. The presence of their breeding plants accounts for this; abundant birch, Alder, gorse, and heather exist in the Kilberry area.

Waved Carpet, a scarce moth in Ireland and Britain. It flies in June and July, and the larvae feed on the young leaves of several trees, including Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa), birch (Betula), and sallow (Salix). Photo Philip Strickland.

One of the rare moths we found is Waved Carpet. It is strangely rare because it breeds on birch, a very common tree on bogs. We counted four Waved Carpets, the highest number I have ever known in a trapping session in Ireland.  Many moths we found are not necessarily rare but are localized, confined to certain habitats. Pebble Hook-tip, which again looks like its name, is one such. It occurs in wooded areas with birch scrub. Another notable moth we found is Bordered Sallow, better known in the Burren and limestone areas than in bogs.

Bordered Sallow. Photo Philip Strickland.
Pebble Hook-tip. It looks better adapted when settled on a birch trunk. J. Harding

The excitement of seeing so many moths and so many species is one of the greatest experiences for any nature lover. It is often bewildering because there are so many. But it offers the prospect of a journey of discovery, of stepping into another dimension, the realm of the night.

Be brave, step into the darkness. Great discoveries await…

A special thanks to our host, Mary Broughall, who made us more than welcome and served delicious refreshments after our time outside. Thanks also to Philip Strickland who led the event and Chris McKenna who set up the traps. Thanks to all who attended-this was not a morning for those with an aversion to rain!

Early Thorn, second generation. The first brood flies from March to May. Its larvae feed on various trees. Photo J. Harding




June Butterflies and Moths

The Transparent Burnet moth occurs in the Burren in County Clare and Galway and on limestone habitats in Mayo and Limerick. The caterpillars feed on thyme in spring. The Transparent Burnet in the west of Ireland is subspecies sabulosa. This form has deeper red than is found on subspecies found in Britain. It flies in June and July, and large numbers can be seen feeding together on mats of flowering thyme. A good place to see it is Coolorta, County Clare, at R 34240 96588.
Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths are found in flower-rich, often damp grasslands where they can be abundant. It has been recorded more widely in recent years but is rated vulnerable on the moth red list. Like the Transparent Burnet, it overwinters as a caterpillar and pupates in May and June. The adult flies in June and July. The moth occurs here as subspecies insularis. It breeds on Meadow Vetchling, A good site for it is Pollardstown Fen, at N 76388 15994.
The Six-spot Burnet is similar in appearance to the previous species but has six spots, not five, is far more abundant and widespread, and is especially abundant along the coasts. It has a much longer flight period, flying throughout the summer months. It often occurs in stunning abundance on sand dunes around Ireland’s coastline where dozens can be seen on a single Common Ragwort. It breeds mainly on Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil. One good area for it is the Dingle peninsula, such as at Stradbally, at Q 58707 13406.
The Cinnabar is a striking moth, and unlike the previous three species, it is mainly nocturnal. It flies in May and June. Although it is striking when seen in flight in bright sunshine, it is probably better known for the larvae which feed socially on Common Ragwort and related plants, their black and yellow hoops making them unmistakable. This is the best distributed of the black and red moths, occurring along the coasts, on dry ground wherever the foodplants occur.
The Brown Silver-lines can be seen during bright sunshine where Bracken exists. Large abundance exists where beds of Bracken occur. It is nocturnal, but like the Cinnabar, it is often disturbed in daylight. This moth is well distributed in Ireland.
The Small Heath is a grassland butterfly that was once very common. Distribution maps from the Millenium Atlas show it to be mainly coastal but with many inland sites but these are scattered, but it may have been under-recorded at the time. There is a strong possibility that it has declined since, with greater intensification in farming eliminating it by changing the grassland habitat it needs. It is very vulnerable to fertilizer use, re-seeding of grassland, and over-grazing. It appears to like ungrazed grasslands but it will disappear from such areas when scrub becomes established and the grass is shaded. This butterfly is still well represented on coastal grasslands. A good place to see it is Mornington, County Meath at O 15737 75513. It flies in May, June, July and August, in one generation.
The Meadow Brown occurs throughout Ireland in semi-natural grassland where it even manages to survive fertilizer use, but it exists on such sites in lower numbers. It flies from June to August and occasionally later especially in the west of Ireland. It is exceptionally abundant in some grasslands even on farms.
The Cryptic Wood White is well established throughout Ireland excepting areas of hot, dry, exposed carboniferous limestone where it is replaced by the Wood White. The Cryptic Wood White flies mainly in May and June and breeds on Meadow Vetchling and Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil and presumably related plants. ‘Unkempt’ scrubby grasslands, well-vegetated field margins, wood edges, lanes, wilder gardens in rural areas, and cutover bogs vegetated with grassland vegetation are places to look for this dainty, extremely interesting little butterfly.
A Small Tortoiseshell on Rough Hawk-bit, Lullymore, Co. Kildare. This is flying now, especially around nettles where it is busy breeding to lay down a second generation that flies mainly in late August and throughout September when it visits gardens to feed on flowers before overwintering as an adult, often in your house. This attractive, swift-flying butterfly occurs throughout Ireland.


Event Report: Outing to Portrane Burrow June 10th 2023: A case of the Blues

The prolonged period of dry weather which has extended over five weeks, appeared to be about to end just as our Portrane outing was due. Fortunately, the weather at Portrane was dry and mild, with bright conditions and some hazy sunshine.

We assembled and made our way to the dunes at the northern extremity of Portrane Burrow. At this point, some explanation is needed. Over the past 15 years, the dunes in the area were eroded by the sea until only the dunes at the northern end, immediately south of the estuary, remain. Last winter, these were inundated, but not removed.

The vegetation remains mainly in place but the condition of the habitat appears less favourable. Re-growth of the recently uprooted Sea Buckthorn was noted. Non-native plants like Cordyline (New Zealand) and Red Valerian (Mediterranean region) have appeared too. Some areas appear to have lost some habitat for the Small Blue and Small Heath.

Small Blue laying her egg on Kidney Vetch in Portrane. Photo J. Harding

Drought is beginning to affect the condition of the Small Blue breeding plant, Kidney Vetch.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has identified five direct drivers of biodiversity loss. These are changing use of the sea and land, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive non-native species. The two indirect drivers are people’s disconnect with nature and the resulting lack of value placed on the importance of nature.

Looking at the direct influences on biodiversity loss, the latter three, climate change (coastal erosion removing the dunes), pollution (burning, dumping waste,) and invasive non-native species (a range of species, especially Sea Buckthorn) are at play in Portrane which also holds breeding populations of birds of conservation concern: Little Tern, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Skylark, and Meadow Pipit. As for human disconnect and disinterest…

During our outing, we counted 24 Small Blues (ranked endangered), 8 Common Blues, and 12 Small Heaths (ranked near threatened).

To put this in context, on 7th June 2018 John Lovatt, (who led this event) counted 439 Small Blues, 204 Common Blues, and 33 Small Heaths.

Of course, populations are not the same every year, so let’s look at the 2nd of June  2020. That day, John recorded 232 Small Blues, 82 Common Blues, and 23 Small Heaths.

On the 7th of June 2022, John recorded 85 Small Blues and 34 Common Blues. These declines mirror the loss of habitat and the reduction in the quality of the area remaining.

While the precise causes of Portrane’s decline in habitat size and quality are not universally applicable, the signs are ominous for Ireland’s butterflies and habitats. Portrane is on the front line and tells us to change our attitude before we are left with nothing.

Dune habitat with invasive, non-native Sea Buckthorn encroaching on Kidney Vetch. Photo J. Harding

Thanks to John Lovatt for leading the event.