Butterflies and moths are far less common now than they were 50 years ago and you don’t have to look hard to find out why. Flower meadows have been destroyed together with much downland, ancient woodland and peat bogs and even our hedges and field boundaries have gone under the plough.
The good news is that we can do something about this right now and teach our children how to do it too. Anyone with a garden or even a window box, no matter what size or where it is, can help save butterflies, moths and other wildlife.
Butterflies visit gardens to drink nectar from flowers. A window box in a built-up area can supply the fuel a butterfly needs to fly on to a more suitable habitat. In a larger plot you can provide nectar throughout the season and enjoy butterflies all summer long. Many good nectar plants are hardy and easy to grow. The top five nectar plants are:
- Ice-plant (Sedum)
- Michaelmas Daisy
- Marjoram/ Oregano
It is important to support butterflies at every stage of their lifecycle. Adult butterflies lay eggs on the foodplant for their caterpillar. To encourage butterflies to breed in your back garden make sure you cater for their caterpillars too. Stinging nettles are a favourite of the Comma and Red Admiral. You can limit their spread by planting them in a large container sunk in the ground. You could also grow Ivy, Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard, Hop and Birdsfoot-Trefoil.
Many species peak from mid-August to early October. Can you spot these butterflies in your garden?
Why not set aside an hour to sit in your garden, or a park and see how many butterflies you can spot? You can also go to your local garden centre and buy some plants for your garden to attract butterflies.