We all love seeing butterflies flit about in our green spaces. They are a beautiful addition to our gardens and one that we can all do a little bit more to help.
Dr Ian Bedford, head of the entomology facility at the John Innes Centre, recently gave an extensive talk on the UK’s butterfly and moth species, including offering tips to gardeners on how to make their gardens more butterfly friendly.
One of the most important things to do is avoid the use of insecticides and pesticides in your garden. He recommended asking any nursery you buy plants from whether they have been treated by systemic insecticides before you buy them. If the answer is yes, you should source your plants elsewhere.
Thinking about your planting to ensure there are nectar-producing plants in your garden in spring, summer and autumn can also help these beautiful insects thrive. Russian sage and verbena were named as plants that are good for extending the nectar season.
Dr Bedford also pointed out that many butterflies and moths need somewhere to hibernate, so avoid cutting back shrubs until the spring. Leaving a pile of logs in a sheltered spot can also be a good way to provide a safe place for butterflies and moths to hibernate in the winter.
Of course, it’s not just the butterflies who need help – their caterpillars also need food when they’re growing. Dr Bedford suggested planting patches of caterpillar food in your garden if you have space. Plants like ivy, nettles, nasturtium, buckthorn and brambles were among those recommended.
Find someone to help with your garden maintenance in Enfield if you don’t think you’ll have time to keep on top of your outdoor space.
Last month, wildlife gardener Kate Bradbury stressed the importance of gardening with our wildlife in mind in an article for the Evening Standard. She said that doing small things, like planting flowers that appeal to bees and butterflies, or making holes in fences for hedgehogs to pass through can help save the UK’s urban green spaces.