Top 10 ways you can help butterflies

The Experts: 10 ways you can help butterflies

British butterflies are a beautiful sight to behold, even more so in the summer months when their populations hit a peak. 

But what can we do to help protect butterflies? 

We spoke to experts at the Butterfly Conservation to find out the top 10 ways you can help butterflies thrive this summer - just in time for the Big Butterfly Count 2022, sponsored by us!

 

1. Plant some flowery friends

Growing lots of nectar-rich flowers any time between March and November means butterflies and moths have enough to feed on and pollinate at the time when they are out and about the most. Choosing a variety of flowers is best as this attracts a wider array of species in turn. It would also be especially helpful if you can grow climbing plants that go up walls and fences. This way, butterflies and moths can also find shelter.

2. Use bug-friendly compost

It’s also important to always use a peat-free compost. This is because peat bogs are the homes of many different species, meaning that when peat is used for compost their homes are destroyed. You can check the labels on compost to ensure what you buy is peat-free.

3. No pesticides, please!

Any pesticides that are used on flowers potentially harm butterflies and moths as this is where they collect their nectar. The pesticides can remain in plants for several months meaning that even if you use this once or for a short duration it could still have a profound effect on the butterfly and moth population in your area.

4. Take part in the Big Butterfly Count 2022

From 15th July to 7th August, you can take part in this annual citizen science project. This survey helps scientists understand more about the health of butterflies and some day-flying moths. This information allows to make important decisions about where to target our conservation effort. To take part, download the free Big Butterfly Count app or head to the website – www.bigbutterflycount.org - and check out the ID list so you can see how many different species you can spot!

The best part…..you can do this from any green space whether it’s a park, garden, flower patch, or churchyard. Even if you don’t spot anything this information is still useful to scientists as well!

5. Share

There is a lot to learn about butterflies and why they are so important to the ecosystem. Many people have busy lives and might not know that butterflies and moths are indicators of biodiversity, or that the effects of pollution and climate change are adding to their disappearance. Learning and sharing facts about butterflies can help spread the word about the importance of protecting them. Along the way you can also appreciate how beautiful they are and have fun trying to spot the difference between different species such as the Common Blue and the Adonis Blue - even some experts struggle with this one!

6. Don’t mow your lawn

Mowing the grass can kill caterpillars, so by avoiding mowing you keep future butterflies and moths safe and able to grow. Many other insects call long grass home as well, so by letting your grass grow taller for longer, you allow a whole ecosystem to develop right on your doorstep which enables a variety of species to thrive.

7. Volunteer

Volunteering with environmental organisations can help protect butterflies as well as the general environment. Butterfly Conservation, for example, has a range of branches across the UK where you can get outside and help manage a nature reserve. You could also do a range of individual activities such as litter picking to reduce plastic pollution in natural areas, or help out at your local allotment or community garden. Whatever you do, your actions are greatly appreciated, and they truly do make a difference.

8. Don’t forget the caterpillars

You can also grow caterpillar food in your garden by having an area with a mix of native grasses that have been left to grow in addition to other plants such as dandelions, nettles, bedstraws, and brambles. While these plants would generally be considered weeds, they are brilliant for attracting caterpillars who love to munch on them. Other flowers that caterpillars love that can sit in flower beds include foxgloves, primrose, and thyme.

9. Build a bug hotel

By creating a shelter of trees, leaves, hedges, etc. You can create a safe space for insects to thrive. There are also specific constructions that look similar to bird boxes that can provide insects with a place to be sheltered from the wind. Another way to do this could be building a pile of logs and leaving them in a corner of your garden. Some moth species breed in dead wood, and your woodpile could be essential for them. Or, you can check out Vivara's own range of bug hotels!

10. Support Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation is the UK’s dedicated butterfly and moth charity that aims to save these creatures, as well as the environment. Our work is increasingly important, as demonstrated by the recently published Red List that revealed half of Britain’s remaining butterflies are threatened or near-threatened.

But there is plenty you can do to help! Whether it’s dressing up as a giant butterfly for a fundraising run, or helping us monitor butterfly numbers, we rely greatly on the amazing work of our volunteers. For more information, please visit our website here.

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Big Butterfly Count

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Now in our second year of sponsorship, we want to help make it better for butterflies.

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