This monitoring scheme represents the gold-standard in terms of the information that a citizen scientist can provide to support butterfly monitoring and conservation.  The Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme this project aims to estimate changes in butterfly population size across seasons and across years.  This monitoring scheme also accurately tracks the phenology (flight periods of each species and each generation per species) of our butterflies too and our recorders do this my walking their route once a week from 1st of April to the 29th September (week 1, starting April 1st; starting April 8th etc., please download the latest calendar from here).

What does a monitoring walk ‘look’ like?

Overall, if you have a particular walk you enjoy and have permission to access the area, then wherever you want! As along as it is a minimum of 1 km in length and you can walk the route once a week from April to September. You should divide your walk up into 5-15 smaller sections e.g. from your front door to the start of the hedgerow, section 1; from the start of the hedgerow to the end of the hedgerow, section 2; etc. Per section, as you walk along you record all the butterfly species and numbers of each you see within 2.5 m either side of yourself and 5 m in front (a 5 m3 recording ‘box’).

 

Pollard walk
Recording ‘box’ within which all butterflies are counted as part of the Five Visit Monitoring and Irish Butterfly Monitoring Schemes.

Example transect
An example butterfly monitoring transect walk divided into nine sections. Per section, all butterflies are recorded and the % sunshine noted.

 

Under what conditions should I walk my route?

Recording should be undertaken between 11:00 and 17:00. Clearly, butterflies do fly outside of these times during ideal conditions in the summer, but at other times of year smaller species will be less inclined to fly at cooler morning or evening temperatures and may not be on the wing when you walk.

Only record when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity: at temperatures of at least 13°C or above, and at least 60% sunshine (e.g. when 60% of the sky is cloud free). When temperatures are 17°C or above, the % sunshine is no longer a constraint. The wind speed should be less then Beaufort scale 5 (small trees in leaf being to sway).

 

What should I record each time I walk?

Bring along a notebook or downland and print one of our recording sheets and note:

  • date
  • time you started, time you finished
  • average temperature throughout your walk
  • average wind speed throughout your walk (Beaufort scale 0-6)
  • average wind direction throughout your walk (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW)
  • per section of your walk the % sunshine, the species and numbers of butterflies you see

 

Where do I submit the information from my walk?

Please register and set-up your walk online here: http://monitoring.biodiversityireland.ie/

There’s a full tutorial on how to set-up your walk and enter records here: Tutorial for Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme Accounts

Never hesitate to get in touch if you need any help: tmurray@biodiversityireland.ie