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The Painted Ladies are coming!

By Heather 10 years ago

Just found out that our gardens are likely to be invaded by not millions but billions of butterflies in the next couple of days!

The pretty amazing
Painted Lady butterfly migrates to the UK every year from North Africa. It lays its eggs here and then about this time of year they hatch, before flying back to Africa to overwinter.

This year, because of the perfect conditions in Morocco, where they originate, a great than usual number arrived in May.

Now the next generation are about to hatch in their billions from their cocoons and add some more wonderful colour to our gardens.
Find out more about them on the Butterfly Conservation website.

I'm starting to feel a bit guilty about squishing cabbage white eggs and catapillars on my brassicas....

Rain stops butterfly play

By Heather 12 years ago

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme have reported that the weather last year resulted in hard times for butterflies, in fact the worst for more than 25 years. The unusually wet summer meant that butterflies had fewer chances to feed and breed and so numbers have declined. To get more information, check out the Butterfly Conservation web site.

Whilst this is not good news, there are things we can all do to help butterfly numbers recover. Certain species of native plants provide a great habitat and/or nectar to encourage the establishment of breeding colonies and look great to boot. If you have space, try and pack as many native species in as you can with as wide a range of flowering times as possible.

Here are some of the top runners for providing nectar:

BetonyGreater Birdsfoot TrefoilFleabaneCornflowerField ScabiousHemp AgrimonyOxeye DaisyPurple LoosestrifeRagged RobinSheepsbit ScabiousTeaselWild BasilWild MajoramYarrow
Also, don’t forget that grasses, nettles and thistles provide food for butterfly larvae so it’s worth leaving a little wild corner just for them.
If you would like more information about gardening with butterflies in mind, Jenny Steel has written a great book called Butterfly Gardening.