Cinnabar moth, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, June 2018
Grow a Secret Garden for Butterflies is the theme of this year's Wild About Gardens campaign from the Wildlife Trusts and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
Wild About Gardens celebrates wildlife gardening and aims to encourage people to encourage wildlife into their gardens. Many of the UK's common garden visitors – including hedgehogs, house sparrows and starlings – are increasingly under threat.
Butterflies and moths are vital pollinators and, along with caterpillars, are important food for many species of birds such as robins and blue tits as well as bats. However, their numbers are declining, once-common species like the small tortoiseshell have dropped by up to 80% in the last 30 years in some places.
But, our gardens, whatever the size, can provide valuable homes and food sources for these beautiful insects. An ideal butterfly garden includes a wide variety of plants that bloom throughout the year to support insects across their life cycles – for butterflies and moths emerging from hibernation, egg-laying females, caterpillars and then as adults. Early-flowering species such as dandelions and native bluebells are good sources of nectar; buddleia is a great summer butterfly bush and, finally, ivy flowers are very popular with pollinators in autumn when little else is in bloom. Many wildflowers and long grasses offer great food sources for caterpillars.
The campaign is asking people to pledge a new Secret Butterfly Border or Butterfly Box in their garden or local green space to help butterflies and moths. Then put your butterfly garden on the map all the butterfly gardens, whatever their size, will contribute towards the network of green spaces that nature needs to survive.
The Wildlife Trusts and RHS have published a free booklet with advice aon how to make your outdoor spaces more attractive to butterflies, moths and their caterpillars.You can download it here.