Butterflies and Moths: Attracting Butterflies
To attract butterflies to your garden you need to provide nectar for the adults but it is just as important that there is food for the caterpillars, either in the garden or close by.
Many butterflies have very strict habitat requirements and it is not possible to duplicate these conditions in an average garden so, unless your garden adjoins such a habitat you are unlikely to see these species. The ones that we do see are very wide-ranging and generally feed on common plant species.
To attract butterflies into your garden you need to grow a selection of plants that will provide nectar from spring right through to the autumn. Choose a sunny, sheltered spot, ideally it should be south or south-west facing. Also, it is important to plant a number of each species to make a visible display and one that will give off a strong enough scent to attract the butterflies. Remember that single-flowered plants are best as the nectar in double flowers is inaccessible.
When deciding on what to plant it's a good idea to have a look at what the butterflies are feeding on in the wild in your area and then select something similar from the list below.
Don't forget that whatever you plant for butterflies will also attract moths; you will just have to go and look for them with a torch!
Annuals and Biennials
Native Wild Flowers
For the caterpillars
Remember that without food plants for caterpillars to feed on there will be no butterflies to visit your flowers! The average garden is not really suitable for many butterflies to breed. Leaving one or two nettles is not enough to tempt a Small Tortoiseshell to lay eggs – she needs large patches. So, it is important to make sure we have large areas of nettles, thistles, etc. nearby. Popular food plants include holly, ivy, cabbage, nasturtium, honesty, grasses, cuckooflower, blackthorn which may encourage species like the whites, Orange-tip, Holly Blue and Speckled Wood to breed.
Other things you can do
- Leave fallen fruit under trees to rot
- Avoid using chemicals to kill garden pests as they will also kill caterpillars.
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|Created by SER © 2017||The Wolseley Centre, Wolseley Bridge, Stafford. ST17 0WT||Last updated 10/04/2015|
|Operated by: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council|