Northern Ireland

Butterfly sightings decrease in Northern Ireland following poor summer weather

The Marsh Fritillary Image copyright Oisin Duffy
Image caption The Marsh Fritillary was once widespread in the UK and Ireland

Summer is expected to be a flowery, colourful time of year in the garden with butterflies fluttering from one blossom to another.

However, if you're a bit of a butterfly boffin, you may have already noticed that there have not been too many of them around this year.

The same could be said of last year and the weather has had a big part to play.

Last year saw a poor summer weatherwise, depleting the butterfly population.

Ian Rippey is a Butterfly Recorder with the Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland Committee.

Image copyright Ian McDonnell
Image caption Small Tortoiseshell butterflies feed up on nectar before winter returns
Image copyright John Fogarty
Image caption They are distinctive due to the blue edging on their wings

He said that numbers were already down last year due to a poor summer.

He also added that the mild wet winter would not be favourable as they tend to do better after a cold dry winter season. As a result, numbers reduced this year having started from a low level.

Image copyright Oisin Duffy
Image caption The Common Blue is found in a range of grassy habitats

From sightings of resident butterflies in Northern Ireland so far, most species have not been doing well except for the Painted Lady.

Even a couple of other species that did emerge in the fine spell at the end of May into the start of June now seem to be disappointingly low in numbers.

The Wall Brown, which has already been in steep decline in recent years, has not been spotted at all this year. This is also the case for four of the other resident species, Purple Hairstreak, Silver-washed Fritillary, Clouded Yellow and Grayling.

Image copyright Gavin Ferguson
Image caption In late May and early June the Red Admiral arrives in Europe
Image copyright Shirley Goodlife
Image caption It is one of the best known butterflies

So that good spell of weather may not have had a positive effect, especially with the deterioration in sunshine and daytime temperatures since then.

Butterfly spotters can only hope for an upturn in the weather, and that doesn't look like happening any time soon.

The next Big Butterfly Count is coming up and Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland would like as many people as possible to join in.

Information on how to take part and identify species can be found on their website.

Image copyright David McIlveen
Image caption The Silver-washed Fritillary has not been spotted in Northern Ireland this year
Image copyright Oisin Duffy
Image caption Brimstones are often cited as the first butterflies of the year