THE DECLINE OF BUTTERFLY AND CATERPILLAR HABITAT




Picture yourself on a summer’s day, relaxing in a typical English garden. You'll probably summon images of butterflies and roses. Unfortunately the reality is somewhat different with most roses stunted and smothered with aphids, and as for butterflies - there probably won't be any.

Image credit - http://www.oceanfdn.org/
So why are our native butterflies becoming visibly scarcer. A recent report from the Butterfly Conservation claims that 93% of indigenous species are in decline. Climate change, loss of natural habitat, and pesticide use have all played their part, but we can make a difference right here in our own gardens.

Planting the late flowering Buddleia is a popular choice, allowing butterflies access to energy rich nectar before their long hibernation. Likewise, Arabis, Aubrieta and Polyanthus will provide an early meal after they've awaken. A constant supply of nectar is required throughout the year and by planting strong flowering plants such as Sedum spectabile , Honeysuckle, Aster, Phlox, Rosemary, Hyssop, Lavender – especially Munstead, French marigolds , Hebe –particularly Great Orme and Mid-summer Beauty, Bergamot, and Marjoram, our butterflies will have a much better chance of survival.

Keep plants well watered during the summer otherwise nectar supplies can dry up, and avoid choosing ‘fancy’ doubled flowered hybrids as the extra petals can inhibit access to the nectar.

However it’s not just butterflies that need our help it’s their caterpillars too, particularly as this part of their life cycle will be reliant on a different selection of plants. Unfortunately for those who are considering planting for larval and caterpillar stages, the plants of choice for many species are the bramble and stinging nettle! However, you may be able to tolerate small plantings of campion, garlic, mustard and dandelion in some hidden part of your garden.

Don't forget, butterflies and their larvae are just as susceptible to chemical sprays as other insects so please garden organically otherwise your new planting schemes will go to waste.

For related articles click onto the following links:
FOOD PLANTS FOR BUTTERFLIES
FOOD PLANTS FOR CATERPILLARS
HOW TO MAKE A BUTTERFLY GARDEN
THE SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY
THE WORLD'S LARGEST BUTTERFLY - Ornithoptera alexandrae
UK Butterflies
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MOTH AND A BUTTERFLY?

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