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Clare County Library


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Butterflies and Moths

The Burren is home to about 28 butterfly species, at least 80% of the species found in Ireland.

Marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia
The marsh fritillary has reduced in numbers in the past 10 years or more throughout Europe, it has also declined in Clare. Habitat: Wet and calcareous grasslands and fens. The food plant required for the caterpillars is Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis).
What could or does threaten the population: Destruction of habitat containing the food plant. Destruction can be from drainage, development and agricultural intensification of wetlands, grasslands and marshes or peat extraction from peatlands.

Brown hairstreak Thecla betulae
This is a rare butterfly which only occurs now in the counties Clare and Galway in Ireland. It was once more widespread occurring in several other counties in Ireland.
Habitat: Woodland and hedgerows in calcareous areas.
What could or does threaten the population: Loss of habitats such as hedge and tree removal.
Brown Hairtrack

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni
The Brimstone butterfly is only found where the food plant exists for the caterpillar. The food plant for the caterpillars is Buckthorn or Alder buckthorn. The brimstone is quite common in the Burren due to the presence of the relatively rare Buckthorn and Alder buckthorn. The Brimstone overwinter as butterflies and fly again as soon as the weather is suitable.
Habitat: Woodland and scrub edge and grassland.
What could or does threaten the population: Removal of habitat particularly Buckthorn and Alder buckthorn.

Peacock butterfly Inachis io
The Peacock butterfly is a common species.
Habitat: Peacock butterflies are found in most habitats including woodland edges and clearings and gardens.
What could or does threaten the population: Loss of nettles which is the food plant for the caterpillars.
Peacock Butterfly

Burren green Calamia tridens occidentalis Cockayne
This moth is not found anywhere else in Britain or Ireland, other than the Burren, Co. Clare. It is thought the food plant for the caterpillars is blue moor-grass (Sesleria caerulea).
Habitat: Dry calcareous grasslands.
What could or does threaten the population: Loss of habitat through scrub encroachment and intensification of grassland.

Damselflies and Dragonflies

The best places to see damselflies and dragonflies are in wetlands such as ponds, pools, lakes, rivers, fens, bogs and marshes.

Four spotted chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
The four spotted chaser is one of the commonest dragonflies in Clare and Ireland.
Habitat: Lowland lakes and ponds in sheltered areas.
What could or does threaten the population: Eutrophication.
Dragon Fly
Scarce emerald damselfly Lestes dryas
This is the rarest damselfly in Ireland, however it is common in some parts of Clare. Most populations occur in parts of North and East Clare and South Galway
Habitat: Turloughs and other fluctuating wetlands.
What threatens the population: Destruction of habitats through drainage of turloughs and other wetlands.

Black-tailed skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
This dragonfly is a scarce species in Ireland but common in lakes in east Clare.
Habitat: Bare edged shallow limestone lakes.
What threatens the population: Eutrophication.

Other Insects

Seven-spot ladybird Coccinella septempunctata
The seven-spot ladybird is very common in Clare and the rest of Ireland. The seven-spot ladybird is declining in Britain.
Habitat: Grasslands and lawns.
What could or does threaten the population: Pesticide usage.

A Hoverfly species Microdon mutabilis
This hoverfly is fairly common in the Burren but not common elsewhere in Ireland. The larvae imitate the smell of the large black ant (Formica lemani) so that they can live in the ant's nest. The slug like larvae then eat the ant larvae.
Habitat: Warm, pavement sites with plenty of large boulders as home for the host ants.
What could or does threaten the population: Insecticide and pesticide use, loss of food sources such as pollen and nectar due to loss of wildflowers.