What is the Five Visit Monitoring Scheme?

In Ireland, there are 35 species of butterfly and we need your help to gather information on how their populations are changing both in the number of species and how they are distributed across Ireland. In the Five Visit Monitoring scheme, volunteers walk a set route just five times per year to record all butterflies species that they see.

Pollard walk
Recording ‘box’ within which all butterflies are counted.

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

 

By taking part in the Five Visit Monitoring Scheme, you will help to gather accurate information on how their populations are changing, both in the number of butterflies and where species now exist in the Irish landscape.

Why monitor butterflies on farmland?

The Small Copper occurs throughout Ireland including in intensive farmland. Its key requirement is Sorrel, the caterpillar’s food plant.

A recent European study has found that since 1990, we have lost 30% of our grassland butterflies and Ireland was identified as being in the top five out of 21 countries for declines in both widespread and specialist species.

The greatest role of butterflies in our ecosystems are as food for a range of other animals, including birds, mammals and host of parasitic insects. It is estimated that across Ireland and Britain, Blue Tits alone consume over 50 billion butterfly and moth caterpillars per year. However, butterflies are in decline in Ireland and across Europe. So by changing your agricultural management to support butterflies, you will have a knock on effect on your farms biodiversity.

Resources available to you

The National Biodiversity Data Centre have developed a handy pocket sized ID guide or ‘swatch’ that can be used for in the field for butterfly identification. The Butterfly Swatch and many other swatches can be purchased through our shop.


 

ONLINE COURSES:

Butterfly Identification

The National Biodiversity Data Centre have developed an online eCourse in butterfly identification. This course is suitable for those who are completely new to butterfly identification and those who want to brush up on their skills as another season of recording starts.

Painted Lady (Kevin Murphy)

This is a detailed eCourse for butterfly identification, showing features of upper and lower wing and any physical differences between males and females. This resource can be used to complement our ‘swatches’ which are small handheld identification guides that can be used while you are out in the field. Swatches can be purchased through our online shop

Pearl-boarded Fritillary (Oisín Meagher)

When you have completed the eCourse, please consider taking part in one of our monitoring schemes. By learning to identify butterflies, submitting records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre either through casual recording or our monitoring schemes, you will make a significant contribution to better understand how butterfly populations are changing. There is a variety of monitoring schemes to choose from that best suit your interest and time available to participate.

Please take our eCourse here


Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme

The National Biodiversity Data Centre have developed an eCourse for the Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme provides recorders with an opportunity to record butterflies in their gardens. Ireland has 32 resident and 3 common migrant butterfly species and while this is quite a manageable number to learn, we only cover the 20 most common butterfly species in the Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. This makes this recording scheme very accessible to beginners.

By going through this eCourse you will learn:

  1. How to identify the 20 garden butterfly species
  2. The methods for the Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme
  3. How to register your garden on the National Sampling Framework (video tutorial)
  4. How to submit your data (video tutorial)
  5. Butterfly identification support

Click on the photo below to start the eCourse.

 

The Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is extremely accessible to beginners as it relates to only 20 of our 35 butterfly species, you can do it in your own garden and only requires 15 minutes of your time.

This course can be used to complement our ‘swatches’ which are small handheld identification guides that are useful to have to hand when you are surveying. Swatches can be purchased through our online shop

Please see our page on the Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme

As always, never hesitate to get in touch if you need any help: butterflies@biodiversityireland.ie