Plants and habitats need to survive for butterflies

Marbled White butterflies

Marbled white butterflies. - Credit: Groundwork South 

The butterfly moves through the meadow like the notes of a rolling jig across a sheet of music, dipping and rising as it flies.

It lands briefly upon a tall blade of grass, before fliting away out of sight.

There is an unromantic, scientific explanation for the erratic flight of these colourful insects, linked to evading predators, but it’s appealing to think that the dips and rises are more whimsical than that.

With many of the UK’s 62 resident and regularly breeding species in flight through the summer months, now is a good time for butterfly spotting.

And with the national Big Butterfly Count running until August 8, sightings can be recorded as part of this annual census, helping to build a picture of the changing state of biodiversity across the country.

According to census organisers the Butterfly Conservation Trust, the fragility of butterflies means they are quick to react to change, and as areas rich in butterflies are also rich in other invertebrates this makes them an important indicator species.

Unfortunately, the picture is not good.

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Butterflies are one of the most rapidly declining groups of plants or animals on the planet, with only 45 per cent of British butterflies being classified as ‘least concern’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

We know that planting nectar-rich flowering plants is good for our native pollinators, but many of us neglect to think of their larvae: the caterpillars of certain butterfly species are specialists and only feed on particular plants, while others have special relationships with insects such as ants that help protect the larvae.

If we are going to conserve butterfly populations, we need to ensure we look after young and old and related species, plus the plants and habitats they all need to survive.

Making changes to the way we garden and care for green spaces, and recording sightings may only be a small step, but its one we should all be happy to take. 

To find out more about butterflies and Torbay’s Green Spaces please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email hannah.worthington@groundwork.org.uk