three-quarters of British butterflies are in decline...
Butterflies are beautiful insects that are invaluable pollinators of flowers, fruits and vegetables and seen as important indicators of a healthy ecosystem.
Sadly, three-quarters of British butterflies are in decline, both in terms of their total numbers and their distribution across the UK. Even the most common and widespread butterflies have seen a 24% decline in abundance over the past ten years. (For more information on the state of Britain’s butterflies, see the Butterfly Conservation website).
Factors behind these declines include climate change and drastic reductions in important butterfly habitats with intensive agricultural practices and changes in woodland management. Wildflower meadows, chalk downland and ancient woodlands now represent but a fraction of the UK’s landscape compared to 60 years ago.
What can we do to help?
Your garden, balcony or window box can be easily used to provide the types of flowers that can help butterflies thrive. Butterflies feed from the nectar of flowers, and because they’re cold blooded, growing flowers in the sunniest spots is great for them.
However, many of the cultivated and exotic flowers that are common in gardens produce no nectar, so it’s super important that you plant native flowers. It’s also important to avoid peat-based compost as our rarest butterflies are found on peat bogs, and the extraction of peat used in compost destroys this fragile habitat. Here at Project Maya Seedball we’ve made a promise to ourselves, and to you, to only ever stock native flowers, sourced in the UK, and to use peat-free compost.
Some other suggestions:
- Grow wildflowers in any available space you might have – even if it’s super tiny! And encourage other people to grow them too.
- Improve your butterfly ID skills and take part in national butterfly surveys, such as the Big Butterfly Count.
- Support organisations like Butterfly Conservation, who work to raise awareness and protect invaluable butterfly habitats.
Top five tips to help butterflies
• Only every use peat free compost. Peatlands are invaluable butterfly habitats and we’re using peat faster than it can be replenished.
• Garden for caterpillars too! Be sure to grow food that caterpillars will love, like nettles, wild grasses and birdsfoot trefoil.
• Don’t use any pesticides.
• Go plastic free in the garden.
• Butterflies love love dandelions (in fact caterpillars do too!)