|British Butterflies: Education: Gardening for butterflies
| Butterflies visit gardens that contain flowers which provide a rich source or nectar. Lots of plant varieties help to attract different species throughout the year.
No matter how large or small your garden may be, if it contains the right plants and flowers, it can easily become a magnet for many species. Ideally, warm, sunny, sheltered spots where a variety of good nectar plants grow are best.
Common garden butterflies such as Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral love to feed on the flowers pf Buddleia, Lilac, Ice Plant, Marjoram,
and Michaelmas Daisies. In the autumn, flowering Ivy may be covered in Red Admiral butterflies.
Most Widespread Garden Species
Large White - Cabbages (wild and cultivated varieties)
Peacock - Nettles
Red Admiral - Nettles
Small Tortoiseshell -Nettles
Small White- Cabbages (wild and cultivated varieties)
Less Widespread Garden Species
Brimstone - Buckthorn
Comma - Nettles, Hops
Common Blue - Birds-foot Trefoil
Gatekeeper - Coarse Grasses
Green-veined White - Garlic Mustard
Holly Blue - Holly, Ivy
Meadow Brown - Coarse Grasses
Orange-tip - Lady's Smock
Painted Lady - Nettles, Thistles
Speckled Wood - Coarse Grasses
Least Widespread Garden Species
Large Skipper - Coarse Grasses
Ringlet - Coarse Grasses
Small Copper - Sorrel
Small Skipper - Coarse Grasses
||Say no to insecticides and pesticides
Using insecticides and pesticides in your garden is probably the worst thing you can do for butterflies and wildlife. They not only kill butterflies but other beneficial insects too such as spiders and ladybirds which eat thousands of other insects are are also eaten themselves by birds and hedgehogs.
Allow some areas of your garden to go wild. Common Nettles are the main food plant for the caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Red Admiral and Peacock while grasses are caterpillar food for Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Ringlet. You could also create a small meadow and grow native wild flowers such as Common Bird's-foot Trefoil to attract the Common Blue. Native trees and shrubs are also important for our butterflies. Try Oak for Purple Hairstreak , Elm for White-letter Hairstreak, Holly and Ivy for Holly Blue.
Avoid peat compost
Scarce habitats are also being destroyed by peat extraction which is used in the horticultural trade. This has led to massive declines in population and the habitat needed for the survival of the Large Heath butterfly. There are plenty of excellent alternatives to peat compost.
Protect your vegetables
If you grow cabbages and suffer from the damage caused by the caterpillars of the Large White and Small White butterflies feeding on the leaves, you could cover your cabbages with a fine netting and grow Nasturtiums as an alternative food plant for these butterflies, saving your cabbages and our butterflies without pollution the environment with pesticides and chemicals.
Don't turn your garden into a car park
Over the last 10 to 15 years, thousands of acres of gardens have been lost under unsightly block paving. Most housing estates today have houses with no front garden at all. The garden has been replaced by a characterless car park which provides very little for our urban wildlife. Not only that but the surface run-off after heavy rain falls may cause localised flooding.
Bring back the lawn and floral border... and back will come our butterflies. Not only that but your garden could provide you with free, natural food throughout the year... with the added benefit that your property is less likely to flood!!