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Big fuss after minimus makes an appearance; 'Extinct' butterfly found in grassland.

Byline: MAURICE FITZMAURICE

A BUTTERFLY feared extinct in Northern Ireland has been found in Co Fermanagh.

Surveyor Bobbie Hamill came across the Small Blue - Cupido minimus - while working in a grassland.

Last recorded from its only known site in 2001, it was feared it was extinct here, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said.

It added: "The Small Blue is our rarest and most endangered butterfly and is listed as a Northern Ireland Priority Species for conservation action.

Although the species can be found in other parts of the UK and Ireland, it is undergoing a significant decline.

"NIEA's Habitat Survey Team recorded a total of seven butterflies on the wing on May 31.

VETCH ME IF YOU Kidney vetch flower at "They partially attribute the occurrence of the species in relatively high numbers to the unusually warm weather - Northern Ireland has enjoyed its warmest spring since records began."

Ms Hamill spotted the butterfly while assessing the condition of the flowerrich plant communities just west of Derrygonnelly.

CAN Catherine Bertrand, head of butterfly conservation in Northern Ireland, said: "I cannot articulate how delighted we are that the Small Blue has been reconfirmed. Our volunteers site have revisited the site sporadically over the past 16 years since the butterfly was last seen, with no success. We genuinely believed it was extinct from Northern Ireland."

She said the Butterfly Conservation had followed up NIEA's discovery with a further visit to the site, specifically to survey the extent of Kidney Vetch, the caterpillar's sole food plant, and to hunt for Small Blue eggs laid on the flower heads."

irish@mgn.co.uk

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ONCE IN A BLUE MOON The Small Blue butterfly found in Co Fermanagh

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 20, 2017
Words:293
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