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Race to save rare Irish butterfly

AN Irish butterfly species is in danger of extinction.

The large heath butterfly is under serious threat at present, according to the EU's Red List for endangered species.

The report shows that habitat loss and climate change are having a serious impact on Europe's butterflies, beetles and dragonflies.

Some 9pc of butterflies, 11pc of beetles, which depend on decaying wood and are essential for recycling nutrients, and 14pc of dragonflies are threatened with extinction within Europe, the Red List says. But Ireland gets off relatively lightly, with just one butterfly species, the large heath, at serious risk.

The results show that many Irish dragonfly, beetle and butterfly populations are stable.


A few are classed as in decline but not yet in danger. Ireland has 30 different species of butterfly, the smallest number in the 27 EU countries, with the exception of tiny Malta which has 18.

Ireland's record, though, compares well with results for other small countries such as Slovakia and Austria where a larger number of species are classed as under threat, the EU said. Some species elsewhere in the EU are so threatened they are also at risk of global extinction.

Jane Smart of the IUCN Bio-diversity Conservation Group said: "When talking about threatened species, people tend to think of larger, more charismatic creatures such as pandas or tigers but we mustn't forget that the small species on our planet are just as important and need conservation.

"Butterflies, for instance, play a hugely pivotal role as pollinators in the ecosystems in which they live."