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Posts Tagged ‘feeding butterflies’

This week it has been glorious with long, dry days of warm sunshine, perfect weather for gardening and getting outdoors and also for Butterflies too, on my allotment I saw quite a few including Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Small Whites and my first Orange Tip, they are all stunning to look at, when they eventually settle to feed on the spring flowers.

In Britain there are 59 species of butterfly that breed here plus up to 30 other species that come here as occasional or regular migrants from elsewhere in Europe, but all is not well for these beautiful fragile creatures, according to a report published in 2011 by Butterfly Conservation three-quarters of UK butterflies showed a 10-year decrease in either their distribution or population levels with numbers of ‘garden’ butterflies dropping by 24%.

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Loss of habitat including food plants for caterpillars and butterflies can have a devastating effect, in Spring many species emerge from hibernation and are hungry for nectar and pollen, by growing Spring flowering plants in the garden we can really give them a boost early on in the year, favourite Butterfly plants include Aubretia, Arabis, Forget-me-nots, Polyanthus, Primroses, Sweet Violet, Wallflowers and of course Spring bulbs. Wildflower seeds can be sown now to provide food in the Summer/Autumn they will also benefit Bees and other pollinating insects, there are many different ‘mixes’ available, they need very little looking after but look stunning.

 Short Mix

If you are really keen to do more to help Butterflies and Moths why not consider joining Butterfly Conservation, if you join before 31st May 2015 you can get your first year’s membership for half price, members receive a Gardening for Butterflies and Moths Booklet, colourful identification charts, Butterfly magazines, e-newsletters and more, have a look at their website for full details.

If you have seen an early sighting of a Butterfly you can register it on the Butterfly Conservation website, many of the early Butterflies have already been spotted but there are many more species yet to find, have a look at the list for the species that still haven’t been seen yet this year and keep your eyes peeled.

Which reminds me I must report my Orange Tip Butterfly sighting on the BIG Spring Watch website, they are also asking you to register your first sightings of a Swallow (which are returning from Africa), an Oak Leaf and a Seven Spot Ladybird all the sightings will be studied and used to help save and conserve our wildlife and provide a picture of how it’s doing.

So get out this weekend and get spotting!

Gill

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Buddleia

By our back door we have a lovely big Buddleia plant which is now in full flower, the Insects, Bees and Butterflies love it, it looks spectacular with its covering of long purple flower spikes. The common name for the Buddleia is the Butterfly Bush which is quite evident when you look at it on a warm, sunny day it is a Butterfly magnet providing an abundant supply of nectar, it is definitely a must have plant in your garden if you love Butterflies, each flower spike is not just a single flower but is made up of hundreds of tiny flowers each one rich in nectar.

Buddleias are very easy to grow from seed and they will self-seed very easily, this plant was a seedling from my allotment which was growing in the onion bed, there are quite a few more growing there again this year which I will pot up and plant in my garden or sunny corner of my allotment, give to friends or to Thomas’s School for their wild garden.

This hot, sunny weather is wonderful for butterflies and will give numbers a real boost especially after the wet summer of 2012 which was the worst on record for Butterflies, but how do we know that 2012 was the worst on record? Every year, throughout the year there are many surveys to monitor butterfly numbers, you can take part in one of the worlds biggest surveys of Butterflies which starts this Saturday 19th July until Sunday 10th August, it is called The Big Butterfly Count. The Big Butterfly count is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation who have raised awareness of the drastic decline in butterflies and moths, and created widespread acceptance that action needs to be taken to protect these unique and beautiful creatures.

What you need to do

Count butterflies for 15 minutes preferably on a sunny day recording the maximum number of each species that you see at a single time and submit your sightings online before the end of August. You can submit separate sightings for different dates and places: parks, school grounds, gardens, fields and forests. This is a great family activity that you can do during the summer holidays, whilst you are away on holiday or as a class activity at school if you have time before the end of term. Submit your sightings online at before the end of August 2014.

For more information have a look at the Big Butterfly Count website, there is also a handy Butterfly Chart to download and print which will  help you to identify and record the species you spot.

Buddleia and Small Tortoiseshell

Buddleia not only attracts Butterflies and insects during the day, at night moths feast on the fragrant nectar rich flowers, so if you have space in your garden plant a Buddleia they are easy to grow, need very little attention and look stunning especially covered in Butterflies, if you keep removing the dead flowers this will encourage new ones, extending the flowering period and providing food for insects well into Autumn.

If you want to know more about attracting Butterflies to your garden click here.

Love your environment

Gill

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Last week we managed to get away for a short break to Silverdale this is one of our favourite places and one we visit regularly throughout the year. The area has a diverse landscape (ancient woodland, flower rich meadows, limestone pavements and coastal saltmarshes) making it a haven for a large, varied and unique range of wildlife, Thomas is very interested in birds and saw a record number of species –  82 in total, but it was the Butterflies that really caught my attention especially the Brimstones which were dancing along the hedgerows.

Photograph of Brimstone from Butterfly Conservation website

Brimstones are quite big butterflies with leaf shaped veined wings which blend in well when they are resting amongst foliage, the females have pale green/white wings and the males have yellow-green underwings and yellow upperwings making them very easy to spot. In Spring the butterflies feed on Dandelion, Primrose, Cowslip, Bugle and Bluebell flowers which can often be found under hedges, the caterpillars feed on Buckthorn leaves.

Butterfly numbers have nearly halved in the last forty years, last year’s hot summer did boost numbers but there is a long way to go before their numbers return to a healthy and stable population. Butterfly Conservation is a charity dedicated to protecting butterflies, moths and our environment (www.butterfly-conservation.org) through conserving and creating habitats, recording and monitoring, raising awareness and encouraging  individuals and families  to get involved. On their website there is lots of information and pictures of Butterflies and Moths and a really useful guide to help you to identify which Butterfly or Moth you have seen.

This April 2014 Butterfly Conservation is offering half price membership (with the code GARDEN50 and paying by direct debit), plus the first 100 people to sign up will receive a free pack of seeds, either Phlox, Pot Marigold or Cornflower, these are not only lovely flowers but are known to attract a variety of Butterflies and Moths, like the Humming-bird Hawk-moth and Peacock, included in each new membership welcome pack is their new gardening book, which contains details of how to encourage Butterflies and Moths into the garden as well as general gardening information, this book is exclusive to members and not for sale anywhere.

Gardening for Butterflies and Moths

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more Butterflies in your garden, this Easter keep a look out for Butterflies or why not become a member of Butterfly Conservation and help our beautiful Butterflies and Moths?

Happy Easter

Gill

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Red Admiral Butterfly

What a lovely summer we have had, everything has really benefited from those long, warm, sunny days – fruit, vegetables, flowers, birds, animals, insects and of course ourselves.

During the school holidays Thomas has spent a lot of his time catching and identifying butterflies, moths and insects with the sweep net that I bought from our local hardware store, it is very similar to a fishing net but the net is about 3 times deeper and is pointed at the end. We have taken it with us on walks, visiting friends and family, on holiday, to the coast, in the fields, woods, meadows and up hills and it’s been brilliant and really interesting learning which species live where and which are the most/least common. The insect world is vast there are thousands and thousands of species out there just waiting to be explored so why not get out on a warm, dry day and see if you can catch some, if you haven’t got a sweep net have a go with a fishing net I am sure you will catch something.

Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station

Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station

As the weather has begun to get cooler and nectar rich flowers are becoming less available now is a good time to provide some extra food and a safe and dry place for our wonderful insects to roost and hibernate, we have put up a Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station next to our Buddleia Bush, whose flowers have nearly all gone to seed, and I think I might put up a Butterfly & Moth Feeder nearby too, as well as being a feeding station the insects can also roost and hibernate inside on the cassette which can be lifted out so that you can observe your guests as they rest .

Butterfly and Moth Feeder

Butterfly and Moth Feeder

If you want to catch and identify insects and bugs why not have a look at the Catcha Bug Catcher this clever little device allows you to catch them and easily observe them through the clear sides then release them without harm, it’s very handy for re-locating those large house spiders in the Autumn!

Catcha Bug - Spider & Insect Catcher

Catcha Bug Catcher

If you are interested in attracting butterflies and moths into your garden click here for lots more information.

Why not have a go at catching moths in your garden or school garden click here for full details.

Have fun, love your environment

Gill

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