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Thought Number 6 Celebrity Insects, Biodiversity and doing Battle with Buddleja

Painted Lady (borrowed from the web)

There’s another low coming from the west this weekend, I can already feel the wind ratchet up a notch. The butterflies must sense it may be their last chance for a while as there were plenty flitting about in the sun yesterday, avoiding the many dank corners which have been created this summer. It’s hard not to become fixated on exquisite perfection when I catch an extended view of a Peacock or a Painted Lady spreading it’s wings to soak up the rays. But this is only part of the story.

Nothing gets a nature conservationist frothing at the mouth more when yet another prime time TV programme urges people to plant Buddleja for butterflies.

Peacock (borrowed from the web)

But what these creatures really need is a wide range of food plants for the Larvae and Caterpillars which is the longest part of their life cycle, and then when they finally emerge for their brief and brilliant celebrity moment, they need a variety of nectar plants which last over an extended period.

Unsupported, Buddleja can be like a temporary bar in the middle of a desert – a place to gorge. Then what?

In the wild they have a propensity to spread so easily that they can eventually shade out other vital nectar plants, particularly in urban areas. This has finally been acknowledged in some of the more learned books on Flora but getting it across in popular culture is a mountain that no one seems willing to climb for fear of being a killjoy. Pah!

Peacock larvae (borrowed from web)

Now I’m thinking…were the Cows actually just a ruse to talk about Insects? No, no, no! I love the cows….so much so I have named them. The beginning of the herd.

PS. A wonderful little book on how to create a garden for wildlife is No Nettles RequiredThe Reassuring Truth about Wildlife Gardening by Ken Thompson. I borrowed the Peacock image from a farm in Somerset which farmed intensively for years and went organic 5 years ago with great results.

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