Friday, August 1, 2008
How many butterflies …… have you seen this year?
We’ve seen cabbage whites, peacocks and chalk blues. We know where there are some wood whites but they are nowhere near our garden and I’m not saying where they live in case somebody goes and damages their habitat. But when I was a kid (and it wasn’t that long ago, really) I used to see many more different kinds of butterfly than I do now.
There’s a plan to build something called Butterfly World, a huge environmental safe space with specialised butterfly habitats. The name may be naff but the project is being supported by the great and good, including David Attenborough.
Butterflies love buddleia, Michaelmas daisies and many of them adore nettles – so if you plant some nettles in a bucket in the corner of your garden, it may actually keep the pesky cabbage whites off your cabbages and hostas! Here’s what you might see if you plant for butterflies:
• High brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe) Numbers down by 79% since 1970 – the most serious recent decline of any British butterfly. This large insect is now found in just 50 sites in the UK.
• Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) Numbers down by 65%. A delicate, low-flying butterfly famed for its “head-bobbing” mating ritual.
• White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) Down by 53%. A small butterfly with a white “w” on its wings. The species was badly affected by Dutch elm disease in the 1970s, which wiped out its main food. You see them a lot in France where British people on holiday thing they are ‘deformed’ cabbage whites
• Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) Down by 49%. Known for its rapid buzzing flight, it is typically found in old industrial sites such as quarries, used to be seen a lot on London bombsites after the war, my dad tells me!
• Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) Population numbers down by 46%. A gorgeous butterfly now nearly limited to the west of Scotland, this brightly patterned butterfly can lay up to 350 eggs in a single batch.
Peacock butterfly courtesy of Neil Phillips
The All Seasons Gardener at 9:30 AM
- What happened to the sounds of summer?
- Gaps in the garden
- Another dangerous garden!
- July garden tasks
- What's best in the garden in July?
- July apple tasks
- It's dangerous to visit other gardens ...
- Garden SOS for beetles
- Garden goodies
- Garden tasks for June