There are 58 species of butterfly native to the UK and many of these are under threat of extinction. Recent reports have shown, however, that recent conservation efforts have given some of our most threatened species a boost. The Wood White butterfly population increased massively in 2010 and the Marsh Fritillary more than doubled its numbers in 2010 compared with 2009, according to Butterfly Conservation. Habitats are being improved and restored and this has had a positive effect on these species. The Comma butterfly, last seen in Scotland in the 1870s, has successfully colonised the southern half of the country and recent sightings prove that it is thriving again. Butterfly Conservation are asking anyone who sees this distinctive butterfly in Scotland to submit their sighting on the BC website, to help find out how far the Comma has spread into Scotland this year.
Plant some suitable nectar plants and butterflies will visit your garden, however small it is. The best plants for summer nectar are buddleja, verbena bonariensis, lavender, perennial wallflowers and marjoram. Many nectar plants are ideal for containers and window boxes, so you can still attract butterfiles. Plant the same types of nectar plants in blocks in sunny, sheltered spots. Dead-head regularly, mulch and water your plants well to keep them healthy and they'll produce more nectar for the butterflies. And, most importantly, don't use pesticides or insecticides, as these kill butterflies and many pollinating insects.
The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey that provides valuable information on numbers and allows the Butterfly Conservation charity to plan how to protect butterflies in their natural habitats. Over 10,000 people took part last year. Just spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot, either in your garden, a park, woods, or fields and record how many of each species you see. Butterfly Conservation has a chart to download to make it easier for you! The survey website can be accessed at www.bigbutterflycount.org. This is a great way to get children involved in gardening and conservation.
For more ways to attract wildlife to your garden view the following articles:Wildlife in your garden