Northern Ireland has only 6% of the land area of the UK but the relatively unspoilt coastline, mountains, lakes and rivers provide habitat for a wealth of butterflies and moths.

Cryptic Wood White on Dandelion seed head
Photo: James O’Neill

Northern Ireland has 25 butterfly species and over 1,000 species of moth. There are two species of Wood White species on the island of Ireland: Cryptic Wood White (Leptidea juvernica) and Wood White (Leptidea sinapsis), the later is confined to The Burren. Cryptic Wood White was only identified in 2001, making it the only butterfly in Northern Ireland not found in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Other key butterfly species include the Large Heath, found on lowland raised bogs in the north and west, and the Marsh Fritillary, which has recently been found on several new breeding sites in Co. Tyrone and Co. Fermanagh. 

The Argent & Sable moth can be found in Co. Fermanagh, which is also home to the only known site for the Irish Plume Moth.

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