So, you’re committed to #DoNothingForNature? Well firstly, thank you! This is such an important part of the year for every species of butterfly and moth, no matter what stage in their lifecycle they are and it’s incredibly important we let them rest and keep them safe so they can make it through the winter. Instead of heading out there and tidying up, grab a brew and read on to learn the best ways to help butterflies and moths this winter.

Hold off the Hedge Cutting

Many butterfly and moth species live inside our hedges as this is a popular place for adults to lay their eggs. So, while there you may be tempted to give your hedges a trim or use your winter holidays to finally get round to moulding it into the shape of a lepidoptera, please don’t. Leaving your hedge unpruned is a great way to keep our species safe. Instead of trimming them each year, leave them be for a year or two and trim them on rotation – these are the best alternatives to maintain your hedge without wiping out a whole generation of insects. 

Elephant Hawk-moth
Elephant Hawk-Moth chrysalis

Step away. From. The Leaves.

A range of different caterpillar species live tucked away within the leaves, so to rake and dispose of them – or even burn (heaven forbid) would mean killing them! Elephant Hawk-moths for example, can be found tucked away under crinkly leaves… just minding their own business. If you must clear up your leaves you can pile them up somewhere else maybe in less visited or quieter areas of your garden.

For those who have flower beds in their garden, then placing leaves with species in can also supress the growth of weeds which adds nutrients to the soil.

Habitat Pile

Consider creating a habitat pile in your garden for our butterflies and moths. Habitat piles are made out of twigs, branches, leaves and any other natural debris you have about your garden. Stacking them up in concentrated areas gives insects a place to retreat into during winter time, giving them a safe space to rest.

Create a Wild Space

Gardens and wild spaces can be real havens for wildlife. Habitat loss is one of the major reasons moths and butterflies are in severe decline in the UK, so establishing a Wild Space can provide them with a place they can refuel and take refuge in. These spaces could be of any size and can range from patios with a single plant pot, balconies in a city centre, or community gardens and woodlands.

Think there’ll be no insect visitors over the winter? Think again! Click on these links to learn what butterflies and moths might be out and about this time of year.

Orange-tip crysalis
Orange-tip chrysalis (Dean Morley)

Trim your plant stems some other time

Some insects might also be chilling out (get it?) during winter months using plant stems. Some of these can be tricky to spot – take this Orange-Tip chrysalis for example! Leaving plant stems uncut means we disturb nature that little bit less so more generations of butterflies and moths can delight us with their sightings come Spring time.

Stay up to date and support our fight for butterflies and moths

Keep up to date with all the latest butterfly and moth news and receive regular gardening hints and tips by signing up to our monthly e-newsletter. Sign up now.

Become a member of Butterfly Conservation

When you join Butterfly Conservation, we’ll send you a wealth of information about butterflies and moths, tips on how to encourage them to your garden and details of which species you can find on your local reserves. You’ll also receive copies of Butterfly magazine and our exclusive Gardening for Butterflies and Moths booklet by top gardening expert Kate Bradbury, which is packed with top tips, plant lists and design inspiration for colourful borders, containers or wildflower meadows. Join now.

So what might the main message here be? If in doubt, just #DoNothingForNature!