Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust: Why butterflies and moths are just so important
In light of recent events, this month’s wildlife column is here to give us all a little respite and cheering up.
Many of us may be spending some extra time at home at the moment and in our gardens.
Here, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Rachel Shaw tells us more about how we can look after our visiting butterflies and moths...
We all love watching butterflies and moths as they flutter by and brighten up our gardens – being in nature replenishes us and makes us happy.
But butterflies aren’t just beneficial for us, they play an important role too.
Butterflies and moths are pollinators. While they cannot carry as much pollen as some bees, which have specially-created ‘sacs’ for storage, butterflies and moths are quite hairy and collect pollen on their legs and bodies as they gather nectar, carrying it from flower to flower.
Along with their caterpillars, butterflies and moths are also a vital food for birds like robins and blue tits as well as bats.
However, their habitats have faced catastrophic declines and once-common species like the small tortoiseshell have dropped by up to 80% in the last 30 years in some areas.
The Wildlife Trusts and RHS urge gardeners to help butterflies and moths for this year’s Wild About Gardens campaign.
An ideal butterfly garden has a wide variety of flowers throughout the year to support their life cycles – for butterflies and moths emerging from hibernation, egg laying females, caterpillars and then adults.
Early flowering species include dandelions, aubretia and native bluebells which could be followed by buddleia and red valerian, wildflowers and long grass. Ivy flowers late into autumn. Even a small flowerbed or flowering window box could throw declining numbers a lifeline, especially in urban areas.
Every butterfly garden counts. And The Wildlife Trusts want to know about every new wild area, box or border that’s being grown for butterflies.
Each garden contributes towards the network of green spaces that nature needs to survive. Please pledge a bit of garden for butterflies and put it on the map here: www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk