2016 was a bad year for UK butterflies and it was hoped that 2018 would see a revival but at present, this just doesn't look like it is happening.
So, what happened?
It wasn't only gardeners who had a shocking start to their year, in April we had a cold snap just at the start of the butterflies mating season then to top this, the summer started colder and gloomy so any egg laid did not transform into caterpillars.
In an ideal world
To be successful butterflies need warm, dry weather during periods when they are flying so that they can feed and mate successfully.
Spring butterflies emerged early in the warm conditions.
The butterflies take about 4 weeks to turn from an egg, to caterpillar, through to pupa then finally emerging as a beautiful butterfly.
Butterflies can live around 12 months but part of this time is in hibernation.
A few facts:
- There are about 17,500 species of butterflies globally.
- Britain has 59 resident species of butterfly.
- An additional 30 species migratory species also occur in Britain.
What can we do?
As for the weather very little, but you can change a few of your gardening habits to encourage them into your garden and provide them a safe haven.
- Grow grass long and plant plenty of flowers.
- Leave fallen fruit under trees for them to feed on. In late summer butterflies, such as red admiral and painted lady, will feed on fruit juices from fallen over-ripe pears, plums and apples.
- Avoid using pesticides.
- Plant butterfly larval food plants, and allow wild plants such as thistles and stinging nettles to grow.
Butterflies benefit from a wide variety of flowers (both native and invasive, wild and garden) as they feed on the nectar that they produce. Plants growing in warm, sunny, sheltered spots tend to be particularly popular. The easiest way to attract butterflies to your garden is to grow a range of nectar-producing flowers between spring and the first frosts of autumn.
Here are eight plants which butterflies cannot resist, providing nectar throughout the season;