16 million gardens adds up to two million acres of garden in the UK. A fantastic resource for food, pastimes, study and wild life.
Butterflies can benefit from the way we garden and provide extra colour and visual enjoyment. Here are some tips to help provide food and shelter whilst creating a good garden.
Caterpillar Food Plants
- Nettles are a good food for one of our largest butterflies the Red Admiral.
- Grow nasturtiums near your veg patch to lure white butterfly and their caterpillars away.
- Grass is a key food and safe haven for many species. Leave a long uncut patch where they can overwinter.
- Wildflowers used to be available in hedgerows and meadows but so much habitat has been destroyed. You can plant wild flower seeds of local species in your own wildflower patch.
- The small Holly Blue butterfly and some moths eat Holly and Ivy.
- White flowers are popular with some species for the camouflage effect.
- Bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is good food for larvae of the Common Blue and also provides nectar.
- Sunflowers and thistles support Painted Ladies
Butterfly Nectar Plants
- Red Valerian
- Sedum Ice Plants
- Buddleia white or mauve
- Michaelmas Daisy
- French Marigold
- Verbena bonariensis
- Perennial Wallflower Bowles mauve
Even a window box or container plants can provide energy giving nectar to hungry butterflies. Butterflies like sunshine and will feed more happily if the plants are in a warm sunny spot.
Alain Picard photographs from Canada under creative commons license on flickr
Butterfly Conservation.org Said ‘Butterfly numbers in the UK have been declining for decades and in recent years this trend has been accelerating. Numbers of Small Tortoiseshell have declined by 68 per cent and the Peacock by 30 per cent during the 2000s.
Five species of butterfly have already become extinct in the UK and more than half of the 56 remaining species are threatened with extinction. Planting for Butterflies is a chance to reverse this decline. Just put some Lavender in a pot or a bit of Buddleia in your flower bed and you can help make a difference.’
The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals by Patrick Barkham from Amazon
Other Photo credits
Butterfly by Alain Picard
Comet moth (Argema mittrei) emerging from cocoon by Kew CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Feeding Time by Kew CC BY-NC-SA 2.0