Gardeners across Britain are uniting in an effort to halt the decline of UK wildlife during a week-long event.
Wild About Gardens Week originated as a reaction to the ‘State of Nature’ report which found that an alarming number of UK native species are on the decline. Some of the shocking figures include a 77% drop in numbers of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies in the last 10 years and a decrease by a third in hedgehog numbers since the millennium. The report revealed that many other UK species of plant and animal are under threat. As our gardens are extremely important to the growth and development of our natural species, the Wild About Gardens initiative is urging the public to get outside and do their bit for nature.
How can we help butterflies?
Gardens are key habitats for many species of butterfly. Butterfly Conversation Surveys Manager Richard Fox has some advice about how Wild About Gardens Week can help your back-garden butterflies.
He explains: “Converting your garden into large areas of hard surface such as decking and tarmac is not good for butterflies, neither is using pesticides so try and avoid doing either of these if you can. One of the main ways in which we can be proactive is to provide as much nectar as possible for butterflies to drink from. Luckily they aren’t too fussy so as long as you have a good selection of flowers in your garden you should already be helping.
“One of the best things you can do for butterflies in your garden is to provide a breeding habitat. Butterflies lay their eggs on the food plant for their caterpillars. Different species of caterpillar have different food requirements.”
Tips to create butterfly habitat
- Holly Blue caterpillars mainly feed on holly and ivy. Let the ivy flower as the buds and berries are what the caterpillars eat. If you keep your ivy trimmed then you aren’t providing a great habitat for the Holly Blue. This is particularly important in winter as it is around this time that the flowers are coming into bloom.
- The Brimstone caterpillar can only eat buckthorn and alder buck thorn so to help these butterflies try to include these shrubs in your garden.
- Try to allow a long patch of grass in your garden – this doesn’t have to be the whole lawn, just a section which is tucked away in the back. This enables caterpillars who feed on grass such as the Speckled Wood to survive and also provides a great habitat for other animals and insects to thrive. This is especially important as we move into winter as it provides a place for these, and other, animals to hibernate.
To find out more about what you can do to help wildlife in your garden visit Garden Resources. Wild About Gardens week runs from October 25th to 31st.