Many, though not all, butterfly species in Northern Ireland have been monitored as part of the State of the UK’s Butterflies 2022 report. The monitored species have shown a 17% decrease in abundance and a 10% decrease in distribution.
The Wall butterfly appears to be on the verge of extinction. Having formerly been found across Northern Ireland, recently there have only been occasional sightings from the Co. Down coast.
The Small Heath is also in trouble, having lost 40% of its distribution since 1995. More data are needed in order to assess trends of some of the rarest and most threatened species in Northern Ireland, species which are seeing greater declines across the UK as a whole.
Signs of improvement
However, despite the gloomy picture painted by the long-term trends, the report points to numerous examples proving that targeted conservation action can turn around the fortunes of threatened butterflies as site, landscape and national levels.
Trends for the Cryptic Wood White, which occurs nowhere else in the UK, have improved since previous assessments and other species that appear to be experiencing recent upturns in their fortunes include Dark Green Fritillary, Silver-washed Fritillary and Holly Blue. These three species are continuing to expand across Northern Ireland, where suitable habitats exist.
Project focus: Action for threatened species
Action for threatened species is a dedicated project run by Butterfly Conservation to help conserve Northern Ireland’s butterflies by providing management advice for landowners in key areas for endangered butterfly and moth species.
How you can help us
You can help us to continue to halt and reverse the decline in butterflies by donating to Butterfly Conservation.