How to encourage butterflies into your garden
Little compares to the vision of butterflies fluttering into the garden on a warm summer's day, adding splashes of colour to our plants. However, with a continued decline in numbers and an ever-changing environment, we need to help butterflies survive and get their numbers back up and into our gardens once again.
Why are butterflies under threat?
The state of butterflies in Britain has been of major concern since the Butterfly Conservation recorded staggering decreases during investigations. They found that three quarters of UK butterflies suffered a 10 year decrease in distribution and population, a 24% decrease in the garden butterfly in 10 years and a decline in habitat specialist species, presenting a real threat of extinction. More recently in 2011, butterfly numbers experienced a sharp decline of more than 20%, which has sparked a national effort to help the population of butterflies increase. There are many reasons as to why butterflies are under threat, the main causes being:
- Building projects
- Habitat loss
- Farming practices
- Climate change
Why are butterflies so important?
There are many reasons why butterflies have become so important to the heritage of our country. Butterflies have graced our planet for some 50-150 million years, and in that immeasurable time have formed a highly diverse group comprising over 250,000 species. Forever putting smiles on the faces of all who have witnessed their beauty, the iconic butterfly has been a prevalent and symbolic creature in literature, art and society for thousands of years.
Gardeners treasure butterflies because they feed on flower nectar, and as they do, they transfer pollen on their bodies and legs from one plant to another. They are a natural form of pest control, and are also an important food source for birds, bats and other predators.
Butterflies are fantastic biodiversity indicators as they react very quickly to change in their environment. Ecologists have stated many times that the decline in butterfly numbers is an early warning for other wildlife, and a warning that the environment is changing.
Ecotourism is of very important economic value in many countries around the world, who rely on the stunning annual birth and migration of butterflies to attract tourists. This is a valuable example of sustainable 'ecotourism'.
If you'd like to find out more ways to attract butterflies into your garden, make sure to read our guide 'Butterfly-friendly plants'