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While you may have heard of our some of our global conservation projects such as the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) contributions you may be interested to know we also carry out conservation work for our own Irish wildlife. We have conducted surveys on the Daubenton’s Bat, Hen Harriers and fundraised for the Golden Eagle Trust for their Red Kite Reintroduction Project.as well as participating in a nationwide survey for Ireland’s bumblebees and butterflies for the National Biodiversity Data Centre Pollinator Scheme. Now in our fourth year, this is one of our favourite summer projects.
The scheme records on average 50,000 butterflies and up to 13,000 bumblebees each year between March and October across 120 sites recorded all over Ireland. Butterflies and bumblebees are extremely important indicators of the health of our landscapes. Monitoring also allows us to see how biodiverse an area is and it helps us to improve or protect the area. Similarly, monitoring helps us understand a species population size and whether it is starting to decline so that a conservation action can be set up.
Here at Tayto Park, we’ve set up a 1km transect that covers our hedgerows, lakes and ponds and our zoo woodland. The transect is walked at a steady pace and any bumblebee or butterfly that is seen within 2.5 meters in front, either side or above you (a 5 m3 recording ‘box’) are recorded by their species name and the amount of what you’ve found. The survey for butterflies is done once a week while our bumblebee survey is done once a month. The recording is undertaken anytime between 11:00 and 17:00 when the temperature for the day isn’t too cold. Ideal weather conditions for both species is when the temperature is above 13°C, wind speed is less than Beaufort scale 5 (small trees in leaf being to sway) and there is at least 60% sunshine.
Recording ‘box’ within which all butterflies are counted as part of Irish Butterfly and Bumblebee Monitoring Schemes.
Butterflies are loved by everyone. They’re majestic, fragile and colourful creatures that glide and flutter around but did you know that in Ireland we have 34 different species of butterfly?
How many of them can you name?
A few of the butterflies we see here at Tayto we have the Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange-tip, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.
Butterflies have four stages in their lifecycle – Females lay their egg on the underside of a leaf that the caterpillar (larva) will begin to eat once hatched. The grown caterpillar will then go into a chrysalis stage (pupa) before emerging into the beautiful butterflies we know.
Butterflies rely on numerous different plant species as food for the caterpillar and rely on even more flowering plants as a food source when they’re an adult.
Small White Green Veined White
Encourage species to your garden by planting certain plants such as:
Nettles, Rosemary, Bluebells,
Honeysuckle, Catmint, Geranium,
Buddleia, Thistle, Heather, Lavender and Purple-loosestrife
VISIT OUR NEWS SECTION NEXT MONTH FOR AN UPDATE ON OUR BUMBLEBEES