Kate on Conservation

Top 5 ways to attract butterflies to your garden

How to make endangered butterflies feel welcome in your garden

Did you know that half of all British butterflies are now on the Red List, which means they’re either threatened or ‘near threatened’ with extinction?

In this guest blog post, Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy, director at Ark Wildlife, shares his tips for attracting butterflies for this year’s ‘Big Butterfly Count’, which runs until August 7…

How to make endangered butterflies feel welcome in your garden

In the last 11 years, there has been a 26% increase in the number of threatened butterfly species, driven by factors such as habitat loss, pollution and climate change.

seedball giveaway peacock-butterfly-in-the-garden

To raise awareness of the issue, the annual Big Butterfly Count enlists the help of the public to chart butterfly numbers and is supported by the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Chris Packham and Alan Titchmarsh. 

With 20 species of butterflies commonly visiting British gardens in summer, the best thing about the Big Butterfly Count is you can do it at home with a cup of tea or cold drink in hand. No need for travel, special equipment or clothes. Pop outside, sit in a comfy chair and simply count.

1. Make a ‘butterfly cocktail’

At a time of year when butterflies are most visible in British gardens, serving them ‘butterfly cocktails’ could be one way to boost butterfly numbers, experts say.

The simplest recipe involves mashing up an over-ripe banana, and mixing in brown sugar and some stale beer.

To take this to a professional level, you can experiment by adding dark rum and/or soy sauce. Even better is to leave the whole concoction to ferment for a few weeks or months before use.

2. Introduce ‘butterfly-friendly’ plants

To attract the butterflies to your garden space, plant bright, fragrant and nectar-rich flowers. Butterflies are particularly attracted to buddleja shrubs (aka the butterfly bush).

big butterfly count 2017 - comma butterfly

You must also avoid the use of pesticides, and it’s best practice to leave fallen fruit under trees.

3. Put out rotting veg or overripe fruit

Butterflies actually seek out fermented fruit and drinks, resting up once they’ve had their fill. 

Butterflies are also highly territorial, so fights between males are common, and may be witnessed around feeding stations.

In common with most animals, attempts to mate often bring conflict too, although their graceful flight patterns look anything but aggressive.

4. Create a simple sugar solution

A simple sugar solution, which is one part sugar and four parts water, brought to the boil is another great alternative to the afore mentioned ‘butterfly cocktail’.

Butterfly Starning wildlife

Butterflies drink partly to boost their spermatophores, which are nuptial gifts for females. They like to add nutrient-rich mud to them, or even animal dung.

5. Install a butterfly house

Butterfly houses are designed to resemble tree bark, butterfly houses give them a haven away from predators.

Painting the house bright colours will help to attract residents.

Butterflies have a four-part lifecycle, making them great animals for children learning about nature to observe. From eggs to caterpillars, then pupae to adult butterflies, they fascinate children and adults alike with their amazing life journey.

About The Author:

Ark Wildlife provides carefully selected natural food and products that offer significant benefits to wildlife and was founded by Sean McMenemy, a garden wildlife expert with over 28 years of experience in the industry. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to create love nests and features advice from Sean McMenemy.

Find out more about Ark Wildlife here: www.arkwildlife.co.uk

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