Nature on our: A new butterfly along the River Dodder

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

There are about 35 different species of butterfly in Ireland. About 15 of these are likely to occur in South Dublin County, with a good chance of seeing around 10 of these in our parks and gardens.  

A new butterfly species however, the Comma butterfly, was recently spotted in the Dodder Valley Linear Park. 

The Comma appears to be a new addition to the Irish butterfly population compressor

The Comma appears to be a new addition to the Irish butterfly population

Until recently, the Comma was known to be a butterfly of mainland Europe and the island of Britain.  Occasional Comma individuals were sometimes recorded in the southeast of Ireland, having been blown across the Irish Sea in easterly winds. 

It now appears though, that the Comma may be colonising Ireland.  Records are gathering from the midlands and from along the east coast as far as Dublin. 

The recent sighting along the River Dodder is the first record of this butterfly in this locality.

The Comma is a very pretty butterfly, with light orange wings and soft brown markings. A distinctive feature however is the lovely scallop shape of its wings, which is unusual amongst Irish butterflies.

The white mark on its underwings gives the Comma its name compressor

The white mark on its underwings gives the Comma its name

 

This silhouette, along with its darker-coloured underwings, help the Comma blend into the background when it rests on trees and on dead leaves.

If it continues to spread, the Comma will make an interesting addition to our own native butterfly population.

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