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Butterflies

Female orange-tip butterfly

Image: Graham Catley

A walk to the bird hide at Portmore Lough nature reserve can be a real treat on a warm and sunny spring day...

A buzz is in the otherwise still air over the long grass path edges. A closer look will reveal a myriad of insects - some slow and clumsy, others darting.

Trails of smoke along the tree line edge are revealed to be newly-hatched millions of our famous non-biting Lough Neagh midge. The heavy flight of a threatening fly will turn out to be the innocuous hawthorn fly, with its long, dangly legs.

Most noticeable are the butterflies. The brown speckled wood that keeps close to the shelter of the woodland will by the end of June be accompanied by the ringlet. The peacock butterflies dance lazily over the nettle patches. Can you see the difference in size between the large white and its cousin, the small white, among the lacy white cow parsley plants at the paths' edges?

Look further to the meadows where green-veined white and orange-tip butterflies seek out the nectar of the now fading ladies smock or cuckooflower. Meadow browns too will enjoy both these open meadows and the woodland edge.

It is a bit early yet at Portmore for the small copper on the gravely paths at the bottom of the lane. But you may be lucky.