Northern Ireland public asked to count butterflies in bid to better understand climate change trends

The public are being asked to keep an even closer eye on butterflies in a bid to better understand the impact of climate change.

Butterflies are barometers of climate change and so their reaction to changing weather patterns can help scientists assess the health of the environment.

The Big Butterfly Count is taking place from Friday 14 July to Sunday 6 August.

To take part all you need to do is spend 15 minutes outdoors, count the number of butterflies you see and log the information on the Big Butterfly Count website.

Conservationalist Chris Packham said: "We're using these animals to assess the wider natural community health.

"Butterflies, caterpillars are eaten by small birds and the birds of prey are feeding on those," he added.

"You take away the caterpillars, you take away the small birds, you take away the birds of prey - so they're fundamentally important to many of our eco-systems".

Last year's count showed that some species of butterflies had almost halved in Northern Ireland.

"They are a big part of our eco-system, our mammals, our birds, they all rely on insects," said Hannah Fullerton from the Butterfly Conservation.

"Doing surveys like this with butterflies allows us to see different trends in how they are going up or down and also in plants, how they have suffered as if we don't have the plants then we don't have the butterflies."

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