The first thing to say about butterflies and moths is that they are beautiful. They come in a range of patterns and colours that are truly breathtaking. We have 59 butterfly species in the UK and over 2,500 species of moths. Some of the most spectacular looking species, and occasionally some of the scarcer ones, can be easily lured into our gardens with the right plants in the right places. The range of moths in gardens can be quite surprising. My own garden is relatively small but I had over 80 species visit my light trap in one night last summer!
Butterflies and moths also play an absolutely critical role in our natural ecosystems. They are considered an indicator species, that being a species that reacts very quickly and sensitively to environmental change thereby providing indications of what is occuring in the wider environment. Indications provided by butterflies and moths can be relevant to a wide range of other invertebrates, invertebrates cover over two-thirds of all species.
Areas where butterflies and moths are abundant tend to be rich in other invertebrates which provide many ecosystem services, such as pollination and pest control.
Moths and butterflies are an important element of the food chain and are prey for many insectivorous animals. In Britain and Ireland alone it is estimated that blue-tits eat over 50 billion moth caterpillars!!! Adult moths and caterpillars are also an essential food-source for spiders, frogs, toads, lizards, shrews, hedgehogs, bats and birds.
Butterfly and moth life-cycles are one of the most valuable examples when it comes to educating children on the wonders of nature. Used around the world, the story of the magical transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult is truly one of the great wonders of nature.
I have a small plant nursery where I grow very particular food and nectar plants for butterflies and moths, the very favorites of several species. I'll be focussing on and offering planting packages for the following species:
- Small copper
- Common blue
- Holly blue
- Red admiral
- Small tortoiseshell
- Speckled wood
- General planting package for moths