Ireland's Biodiversity Awareness Campaign


Species of the Month

Below is a list of our previous 'Species of the Month'

Common Yew Tree
Witches' Butter
Hen Harrier
Eurasian Otter
Harbour Porpoise
Butterfiles of Ireland
Barn Owl



June Butterflies of Ireland


Picture of Painted Lady

Picture of a Painted Lady Butterfly

Butterflies hibernate during the cold winter months and begin to wake in the later spring and early summer.  In Ireland, we have over 1000 species of moth but only about 37 species of butterfly. Moths are nocturnal, which means that they are active at night whereas butterflies can be seen during the daytime.


Common Blue sent in by Alan Walsh


One of the most special Irish butterflies is the Marsh Fritillary, (Euphydras aurinia). The Marsh Fritillary is the only Irish butterfly species protected under the EU Habitats Directive. Once widespread, this species declined severely during the 20th century due to loss of uncultivated grasslands; overgrazing on remaining habitat; and its requirement for extensive habitat area and wildlife corridors. It is now considered one of the most endangered species in Europe so the Irish population is of international importance.

  Picture of a Red Admiral Butterfly

Butterflies have a three stage life cycle: egg-larva-adult and lay their eggs during the start of the summer. The larval stage of the butterfly is called a caterpillar and their main purpose is to eat and grow. The summer time is very dangerous for caterpillars as they are a delicious treat for birds and wasps. You may see many of these around during June and early July. The commonly called “Hairy Molly” is one of the most familiar caterpillars; it is, in fact, the larvae of the small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae).


  Marsh Fritillary                          Cinnabar Moth  (Sent in by Linda Colins)                           


Butterflies are sensitive to minor changes in habitat and climate, this means that small changes to temperature or habitat can impact on their life cycle or migratory patterns. Surveys over recent years have shown that many species are in decline due to fragmentation of traditionally widespread habitats and climate change. Butterfly populations are in a visible state of change over the past number of years. Warmer weather has had an influence on butterfly distribution, butterflies are emerging earlier, many have changed their migration patterns.


You can help halt this decline by adding nectar-producing plants to your garden or patio.


Caterpillars                                Picture of a Peakock Butterfly




  • Daisy
  • Dandelion
  • Forget-me-not
  • Buddleia                                         
  • Honeysuckle
  • Bluebell
  • Primrose 
  • Sweet Rocket




Plant/Food Caterpillar/Butterfly 
Stinging Nettles
  • Small Tortoiseshell
  • Peacock
  • Red Admiral
  • Holly and Ivy
  • Holly Blue
  • Orange Tip
  • Green-veined White
  • Buckthorn Brimstone
    Alder Buckthorn Brimstone
    Cuckoo Flower
  • Orange Tip
  • Green Veined White
  • Devil’s Bit Scabious Marsh Fritillary 


    Cabbage White


    Fun facts 

    For more information on Butterflies check out

    ©2007 Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government