Plants for Caterpillars and Butterflies!
On Sunday I sat for fifteen minutes recording how many butterflies visited my garden. There were two speckled wood and a small white; quite scary really when you think that I have several flowering buddleias, also plenty of other plants that should attract them too. One of the buddleias in the front garden is topped with a mass of large deep purple-blue flowers, so where are the butterflies?
Our gardens are a thoroughfare of green and floral corridors for any wildlife to venture, a continuation of those large open green spaces. There are often plenty of colourful plants to attract them but the hardest task for the butterfly is finding the plants that they need for their young to eat and keeping that life cycle going.
Like all good things there is a down side and the only way to save them is to include in our planting some of those plants needed by various butterflies to lay there eggs on and for their ‘picky little eaters’ to munch away, pupate undisturbed eventually maturing into those fluttery beauties that many of us enjoy so much.
Many butterflies like the peacock, comma, red admiral, and painted lady choose stinging nettles as one of there caterpillar host plants, but the small tortoiseshell relies totally on them for its young. Planting annual stocks and nasturtiums, perennials such as aubrietia, malva or everlasting sweet pea; also some climbers and shrubs like hops, ivy and holly, leaving a few nettles, a clump of grass, or that annoying birds-foot-trefoil will give that occasional visitor something worth coming into your garden for. Even some trees are favoured such as poplars, willows, birches and some elms.
A couple of years ago I mentioned that I would try to be more tolerant by allowing a few nettles, it wasn’t easy at first, but my garden isn’t any worse for it.
Just like we put up bird and insect boxes we could also leave them little places to hide or even a butterfly box for shelter on bad weather days or for winter hibernation.