Cadogan gives support to big butterfly count

Cadogan gives support to big butterfly count

3 August 2022

A DOWN councillor is encouraging everyone to take part in the Big Butterfly Count 2022 which culminates this Sunday.

Cadogan Enright hopes local people will get counting this weekend as part of the “world’s biggest survey of butterflies”, as described by Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland.

The charity says fewer people in Northern Ireland get involved in the annual butterfly count than in other parts of the UK. 

Mr Enright, a member of the Alliance Party, said butterfly levels ped significantly this year due to weather extremes.

“It was a very bad spring for butterflies, and bees too, and there were several warm periods followed by cold periods in the earlier part of the year.

“Healthy places should have lots of butterflies of many colours  and thought this year has had a bad start but, with the warm weather coming in, there should be considerably more butterflies to see from this point on,” he said. 

Mr Enright lamented the low participation in the butterfly count and stressed how easy it is to take part.

“It’s very easy to do and it’s something families can do with children. You just take 15 minutes in your garden or park or when you’re out for a walk and count any butterflies you see. 

“Parents can make it an online learning experience for their children with the simple picture-led data entry option on the Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland’s website.

“It would be great to cover the whole of County Down, “ he said.

Mr Enright has been counting butterflies among the 108 islands of Strangford Lough for the past 15 years.

“Strangford Lough is one of our most important wildlife sites, protected as a marine nature reserve and the islands are sunken drumlins, a special land feature which County Down is famous for, produced by glaciers. 

“I’ll be doing it this weekend with members of the Loch Cuan Canoe club, going out among the islands because it is quite important scientific data that is gathered this way.

All people have to do is to participate is to take 15 minutes in a sunny spot, count the butterflies you can see, try to identify them and then report them.

Rosie Irwin, of Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland, said: “You might be having a cup of tea in your garden, or you might go for a walk with the dog, and you'll just literally count how many butterflies you see and how many of each species.

“There's data across the UK, but Northern Ireland is lacking in data so that's why Big Butterfly Count is fantastic.”

She said tracking their status gives conservationists a way to monitor the wider environment and how it might be changing.

She stressed that butterflies play an important role in pollination and are a helpful indicator of change.

"They're really sensitive when there's a change in their habitat and 70% of all butterflies are declining at the moment and that includes Northern Ireland.

"What we would love to have is a biodiversity indicator and butterflies are perfect for that."

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