Bees, buddleias and butterflies

The last week has seen a resurgence of Small Tortoiseshells, peaking at 18 this morning when I did a count.  Having read a Royal Horticultural Society article on buddleia recently, where they didn’t record a single visit from Small Tortoiseshells in 2009, I was beginning to worry.

The article, incidentally, answers a question I was going to research next year – do colours of buddleia matter for attracting butterflies? It seems not – the top four for attracting butterflies were violet (2), white and light blue. They were all at the top end of the trial for scent, which may have a bearing.

It does say that “Foxtail” (number 2 for attracting butterflies) was top in the Butterfly Conservation Buddleia trial, though the 2012 Butterfly Conservation Buddleia Trial had “Dartmoor” as its top variety (which was 12th in the RHS trial).

Yes, I am confused.  I’m also slightly relieved that someone else has already done the work for me. Our two main buddleias don’t seem to have any difference between them at the moment, which suggests that any difference may be down to site rather than colour or scent (as neither of them seem to be scented).

The white and the blue are struggling to establish themselves after last year’s massacre so it’s hard to make any comment on them.

I’ve also lost the tickets for the buddleias we planted so I can’t tell you what cultivar they are.

The mint was also doing well this morning, with Small Tortoiseshells and Mint Moths. It was also heaving with a selection of bees, which makes me wish I knew more about insects.Truth is that I’m at an age where it’s harder to learn, so I may never know much about bees. It’s a gap in my knowledge, but it’s not likely to be too much of a problem, unlike my lack of knowledge about football and horse racing, which are both deadly to my hopes of ever winning Pointless.


16 thoughts on “Bees, buddleias and butterflies

  1. higgledypiggledymom

    I’m just glad to see butterflies here. We have a white butterfly bush-at least I’m 99% sure it is. There was a butterfly on it, therefore…. Great photos as always, learning something new all the time. PS: Purple Loosestrife is a very invasive plant, at least here in Wisconsin-there’s whole groups dedicated to ridding the ponds/shorelines of it. Good luck!

  2. jeffpermie

    Install a small pond somewhere so you can include Iris ‘pseudacorus’ and ‘mentha aquatica’ (water mint) – purple loosestrife can be grown as a pond plant too but get’s quite big, I would advise a pond at least 2-3 meters long x 1-2 m wide before having a clump of it added.
    Even the ornamental globe artichoke is excellent for honey and Bumble bees, you can get these for free by root division in early spring – just need to find someone willing to let you take a chunk. I often cycle the canals here in London and one section in particular has probably 30-40 buddleija’s growing alongside, I’ve not seen any butterfly activity at all there … I’m wondering if it is a PH imbalance ?

    1. quercuscommunity

      We have a very small pond with some water mint (well, it’s a washing up bowl really) and keep meaning to do more, but we’re held back by the landlord.

      When I pick Julia up from work there are buddleias where I park and very rarely a butterfly on them – I think you also need the right sort of caterpillar food plants and all that stuff.


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