Irish Peatland Conservation Council Bog Restoration and Management
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) is enhancing the breeding habitat of the beautiful golden brown patterned Marsh Fritillary butterfly at its site on Lullymore West Bog, County Kildare. The cutaway bog which was donated to the IPCC by Bord na Mona, is now regenerating into a species rich grassland and moorland with a range of habitats.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) is enhancing the breeding habitat of the beautiful golden brown patterned Marsh Fritillary butterfly at its site on Lullymore West Bog, County Kildare. The cutaway bog which was donated to the IPCC by Bord na Mona, is now regenerating into a species rich grassland and moorland with a range of habitats. It’s a particular good site for various butterfly species.
The Marsh Fritillary butterfly has been breeding at Lullymore West for years but because it is an endangered species, the IPCC is keen to protect its habitat as much as possible. The Heritage Council funding for 2017 has helped the organization put in place a grazing regime to encourage the Marsh Fritillary to breed. This means removing scrub such as gorse and birch saplings in the spring and autumn months and fencing off areas for donkeys to graze on.
“These butterflies like open grassland with shorter and longer grasses and bare ground to bask in the sun,” explains Katie Geraghty, conservation officer with the IPCC. Clearing scrub also leaves space for the growth of the bluish/purple flowering Devil’s Bit Scabious for the caterpillars to feed on.
The IPCC holds volunteer work camps to clear scrubland in February and October. The organization also trains volunteers to help on the weekly butterfly surveys on the site. “We train people in butterfly identification and survey methods for the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme for the National Biodiversity Data Centre,” explains Geraghty.
The IPCC also carries out a habitat assessment and survey of the Marsh Fritillary larvae webs in August. “The Marsh Fritillary butterflies are poor flyers and often we don’t see them flying when we are carrying out the other butterfly surveys so that’s why we survey the larvae webs,” says Geraghty.
The Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) is one of the species listed in the appendices to the European Union Habitats & Species Directive which means that the species and its habitat is protected.
The aim of the entire project is to protect and hopefully increase the numbers of Marsh Fritillary butterflies breeding on Lullymore West Bog. By sharing information about how the habitats are managed, the IPCC contributes to the pan-European protection of this iconic butterfly that many of us are familiar with.
The Heritage Council has also supported the work of the IPCC in the restoration and management of the Girley Bog in County Meath, monitoring of the habitat creation and restoration of Lodge Bog in County Kildare and the Wetland project in Lullymore West Bog.
To learn more about the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly, its lifecycle and the IPCC’s work to protect it, see www.ipcc.ie