Belfast Telegraph

Red admiral soars to new heights thanks to Northern Ireland's mild winter and warm spring

By Staff Reporter

One of Northern Ireland's most striking and widespread butterflies - the red admiral - has experienced a great summer.

It saw its numbers rise significantly compared to 2016 during the three-week Big Butterfly Count, helped by this year's mild winter and warm spring.

Red admirals which had overwintered in the UK and fresh immigrants arriving in spring from southern Europe enjoyed an early and successful breeding season, giving rise to a bumper summer brood.

Despite the red admiral's success, white butterflies took the top three spots as the most commonly seen species here, with 2,361 counted.

Green-veined white numbers were down, but the large white and small white bucked decreases recorded in Britain this year and increased strongly in Northern Ireland compared with 2016.

But last year's front runner, the ringlet, did not fare so well this year. Despite being the most commonly seen in 2015 and 2016, the butterfly has dropped down into sixth place this year, with sightings here down by 72%.

However, the distinctive peacock showed a big increase here and produced its best result since 2014.

The speckled wood also did well, increasing 68% on 2016 and achieving its greatest abundance here since the Big Butterfly Count began eight years ago.

Butterfly Conservation's Richard Fox said: "There have been some real positives for butterflies in Northern Ireland this year, particularly for colourful, garden species such as the red admiral and peacock.

"But above all, the highlight of Big Butterfly Count 2017 has been the huge number of people that have got involved, spent time enjoying and counting our native butterflies and moths and done something useful and important in the face of so much wildlife decline."

Belfast Telegraph

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