Brimstone (male/underwing) - Tamás Nestor

As lockdown continues and we all abide by the Government’s advice to stay safe in our homes over the four-day Easter break, anyone with an outdoor space will be making the most of the sunny forecast this weekend. Butterfly Conservation are urging those with plans to prune, tidy and re-pot to remember to make some space and time for wildlife too.

Here are three alternative garden activity ideas for this weekend:

Great for kids: A great outside weekend activity is to make an Insect A&E, a haven for wildlife and great for the whole family. Channel 5’s Amir Khan provides all of the tips and there’s a competition to win some garden plants.

For more free family resources including craft activities visit our family fun page. 

Discover what’s in your weeds: Notice a patch of stinging nettles in your border? Before you pull them out and discard them on the compost, you may see that the leaves are covered in tiny little holes, or spun together with silk into little tent-like shelters – nettles are the perfect food for the caterpillars of several beautiful butterflies and moths! Take a look at other plants you’d might want to be rid of, including docks, dandelions (amazing food for bees too), brambles and ivy, and see what you can spot.

May all your weeds be wildflowers / Gardening - Sandy Millar/Pexels

Mindful butterfly spotting: Spending time in nature helps ease anxiety and stress. Try some yoga or meditation in your outdoor space or simply have a picnic in your garden and count the insects that you see. Think about what plants in your garden will provide plenty of food for pollinators over the summer and plant some wildflower seeds. Seeds are still available online or you could call your local garden centre and see if they can deliver safely.

There are plenty of butterflies waking up to the spring sunshine right now. Richard Fox, Associate Director (Recording & Research) at Butterfly Conservation suggests a few species to spot: “There are a surprising number of species of butterfly which are coming out of hibernation ready for spring. In the last few weeks we have had received lots of sightings of Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, as well as a few Red Admirals.

“The three common White butterflies (Large, Small and Green-veined) have also all been sighted already this year in the UK and Orange-tips are being spotted more widely in the last few days – the males are unmistakeable white butterflies with bright orange wingtips. Speckled Woods are starting to emerge too and you may witness the males engaging in spiraling aerial contests.

Holly Blue (male/upperwing) - Iain Leach

“The Holly Blue is the only blue butterfly that people are likely to see in their gardens in suburban or urban areas, is beginning its spring flight period, and there are moths flying at night, though they are a little harder to see in large numbers before the weather starts really warming up.” 

You can even contribute your sightings online to the Garden Butterfly Survey which is run by Butterfly Conservation, or share your sightings on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.