Whatever the reason most people enjoy seeing butterflies in their gardens and would welcome more.The good news is that it is not that difficult to add the essential ingredients that attract lots of these beautiful creatures, and keep them happy once they have turned up.
It is worth saying that a garden that works for butterflies is perfect for other creatures too.Like the canary down the mine, the presence of lots of butterflies is often an indicator of a healthy environment. Butterfly lifecycle
Every infant school pupil knows caterpillers turn into butterflies (and moths).But most of us are often less clued up about the details of the butterfly lifecycles.In the late summer months buddleias and other flowering plants are alive with the flutter of butterflies, but within a few weeks the majority though not all will die as winter approaches.
Others like the small tortoiseshells and red admirals, look for a quiet dry hideaway and prepare to sleep until spring.When warmer weather arrives they find a mate and the female lays eggs that hatch out as the years first brood of caterpillars.Once those caterpillars have eatten their fill, they go through the transformation from chrysalis stage to winged adulthood.
Some species lay a last brood of eggs in autumn which then remain unhatched until spring.A few others survive the cold months tucked away in chrysalis.If you are setting out to make your garden more butterfly friendly, it is worth thinking about different strategies for winter survival.
Obviously you need to provide flowers for adult butterflies in summer and early autumn, but just as important is some sort of shelter during winter and somewhere for caterpillars to live. Now for something sweet to eat
The main priority is definitely nectar, Butterflies will visit any garden if it has the right mix of plants.Pick a selection from the list below.
* Flowering March to May Aubretia, Alyssum, Sweet rocket and Forget-me-not.
* Flowering June and July Buddleia, Red Valerian and Pot marrigold.
* Flowering August to October Buddleia, Candytuff, Sweet William, Sedum spectabile and Michaelmas daisy.
Where you position the nectar plants can make all the difference.Butterflies are very sensitive to heat loss and will avoid chilly winds, so a south facing border that catches the sun but is protected from breezes is a certain favorite.
To get the maximum value from what you plant, it is best to put flowers together in blocks rather than scattering individual varieties here and there.This is because as butterflies move around an area they are more likely to spot blocks of the colours they are searching for. Somewhere to lay eggs
The best butterfliy garden needs to be more than a nectar cafe.It should also provide somewhere for females to lay their eggs and for young caterpillars to feed.Watch a female butterfly looking for the right foliage to lay her eggs on and you will see her briefly taste each leaf.She is very choosy as most caterpillars will eat only the leaves of one or two plant species.
This means that if you allocate some space to growing the right plants you will probably end up growing beautiful butterflies too.
Also it is worth finding some space for some plants caterpillars love to eat.EG:the catterpillar of the orange tip will eat honesty, while the brimstone’s caterpillar likes buckthorn leaves and the comma enjoys munching hops.The favorite catterpillar food of the peacocks, red admirals and tortoiseshells is the stinging nettle. Provide a shelter
Lastly but not least catterpillars and butterflies need shelter during the winter, it is a matter of life or death.This doesn’t mean you need to buy the “butterfly homes” you sometime see in garden centres, the best tactic is to be a little more relaxed about your end of year garden clear up.
When we clear dead flower heads from borders in autumn we often destroy chrystalises.While over grown hedges and climbers are typically the places adult butterflies pick to hibernate so leave the tidying up until spring.