The Green Gardener
Celebrate Butterfly Month this August
Butterflies. In the British Isles we have 56 species of these stunning insects full of colour and enchantment and are seen as a representation of freedom and peace, they are also considered a measure of health on the environment but the number of species is rapidly declining. So, here at QGS HQ we decided to celebrate these wonderful in-vertebrae by having a butterfly month to raise awareness of the importance of saving our butterflies.
Even our most familiar butterflies are becoming harder to find and are at desperately low numbers, so it is critical we do something NOW to start looking after these beautiful insects.
But why are butterflies so important?
Not only are they important in their own right, with their amazing colours and shapes, we have a duty to preserve them for the future, for our children and grand children to see. They also represent a huge part of the natural world and add to the planets biodiversity, they have been on this planet for over 50 million years but probably evolved over 150 millions years ago!
Butterflies have long been the subject of scientific research, looking into such things as navigation, pest control, evolutions, genetics and conservation and climate change. They are a massive indication of habitat. They are also a huge part of the food chain for birds, bats.
What is happening to our butterflies?
The life cycle of a butterfly is somewhat short and complex cycle and being sensitive soles they react badly to changes in the world around them. One of the main reasons behind the depleting numbers of butterfly and species is habitat loss. With the growth of the worlds population the need for more land to build houses has taken away our fields, forests and countryside, basically deleting the butterflies natural habitat. The use of pesticides on farm land doesn't help the matter either.
How we can help?
Why not try just doing one or two of these things to help save our British butterflies:
- Don't use pesticides or insecticides, they will not only kill the butterflies but many other species of insects too.
- Plant yellow, orange, pink and purple flowering plants.
- Plants that flower in Spring help will help the butterfly come out of hibernation, so choose plants such as Polyanthus, Wallflower and Astilbe.
- Plants that flower in Autumn will provide food for the butterflies for the winter, so plant things like Lavender, Delphinium and Buddleja.
- Avoid peat compost; peat comes from bogs which are home to plants, animals and insects including butterflies.
- Leave dead heads on flowers to keep as much nectar in the garden as possible.
- Keep up the watering of plants again to keep them flowering for longer.
- Butterflies need a resting place to catch the sun so provide an area of flat stones for them to rest on.
- Join Butterfly Conservation, an organisation who do amazing work to help conserve our wonderful butterflies, they have helped to re-inteoduce the Large Blue, run butterfly recording schemes, manage reserves, hold events to help get people involved in their great work and much much more. Why not check them out http://butterfly-conservation.org.
- Get involved with the many schemes around the UK who record butterfly numbers which help to define which areas of the UK we need help.