Help sought for NI butterfly survey

Cryptic Wood White
The Cryptic Wood White and other butterflies are the subject of a new survey (pic by James O’Neill)

Butterflies appear to be in woefully short supply in my area of Co Waterford so far this summer but a call is going out to Northern Ireland wildlife lovers to help discover how they’re faring in Tyrone and the West – particularly the Cryptic Wood White!

The recently discovered Cryptic White Wood seems to be exclusive to the island of IrelandSo, as part of efforts to find out more about this, and other butterflies, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) is holding a free workshop in Omagh to train more people how to survey butterflies on June 23 2016.

Cryptic Wood White and other butterflies

Organised by Rose Cremin, from BC’s Butterfly Files project, a two-year initiative designed to help the charity develop its recorder base, the course offers a pretty exciting opportunity to anybody who loves butterflies and would like to play a role in their conservation.

These kinds of surveys recognise the important role volunteers play in helping identify native species that may be experiencing problems because of issues like habitat loss, food shortages and weather patterns etc.

“We really struggle to get information on how our butterflies are doing in the West, which means it’s now an under-recorded area. The truth is the butterflies are there and people see them all the time when they are out walking – they just don’t know to tell us about it. We’re hoping this free training event will be a way of connecting with those people and anyone else interested in butterflies,” says Rose.

Participants in the training course will be shown how to do a Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey, which, as Rose says, is a “great way for people to get outside and learn more about butterflies”.

So, why the particular interest in the Cryptic Wood White? It was only identified by scientists in 2011 after previously been mistaken for the similar looking Wood White and Real’s Wood White.

The public should have a chance to see this butterfly during the free WCBS event on Thursday at the Ulster American Folk Park.

The three-hour course will include a butterfly identification workshop, an introduction to the WCBS survey and a butterfly walk to find the Cryptic Wood White and other species on the wing in Omagh this month, such as the Speckled Wood and Red Admiral.

Your place can be booked by contacting Rose at rcremin@butterfly-conservation.org or phone 07881 583 932.

For more information on BC events in Northern Ireland you can just visit www.butterfly-conservation.org/NIevents.

Our garden butterflies

Meanwhile, I’m hoping that our lavender, which looks set to start blooming pretty soon, will attract some butterflies to our garden in the coming weeks.

Holly Blue
Holly Blue Butterfly – not the one in our garden!

The closest I’ve come to an exciting moment so far has been spotting a Holly Blue while sitting in the car after picking the girls up from school earlier this week. It is such an incredibly pretty shade of blue that I’m very glad that we have an untouched long-established holly-rich hedgerow beside our house!

You can read Butterfly Conservation Ireland’s tips on planting to attract butterflies to your garden by clicking here.

And I’ve previously written about why we should cherish our pollinators like bees through cross-border initiatives.

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