The Butterfly Count is upon us for 2017 and Julia is preparing the materials for the group.
We had a preparatory look in the garden on Friday to get some idea of what was about, and had a good result, considering it was a cold day. The buddleia didn’t attract much (possibly because it’s planted in a shady spot) but the mint attracted a lot of pollinators and the Mint Moths. (Mint Moths are only about quarter of an inch across (6mm) in real life – don’t go looking for something the same size as the photo). I didn’t see butterflies on the mint, but they were mainly seen in the area around the mint.
There was also an unidentified white, an unidentified brown (probably Meadow Brown or Gatekeeper) and an unidentified brown Skipper.
We need to add a few more plants around the place – more buddleia would be good, and oregano used to attract a lot of butterflies when we were at the Ecocente. Although the Mencap garden isn’t anywhere near as good as the Centre garden for attracting butterflies, it’s still as exciting to try to spot new species and plan to attract more. We have a few buddleia seedlings to donate and I’ll have to persuade Julia to grow oregano.
The last week has been reasonably good in the house garden (which is a bit of a butterfly wasteland), with Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Orange Underwing moth all seen this week. There are Mint Moths in a herb garden along the street and I live in hope of seeing another Hummingbird Hawk Moth on the Red Valerian like we did (twice) in 2015.
Time to start giving some serious thought to our own garden, after a year of hacking back in 2016.
I’m slightly ambivalent towards buddleia as it’s a non-native species and can be considered a pest. I think it’s best summed up here by Butterfly Conservation – it’s a valuable source of nectar and is OK in gardens. However, it doesn’t feed caterpillars and it can be invasive in the wrong place.
There are other plants to feed butterflies and caterpillars, as this list shows.