The butterfly season is well underway with more than 30 species now 'on the wing'. Some butterflies will have already laid eggs and their caterpillars could be hatching any day. This month, in honour of much-loved children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar's 50th birthday, we reveal what the offspring of butterflies and moths really eat. You can also discover how to be more environmentally-friendly in your garden and get the latest information on moth declines.
Very Hungry Caterpillars
This week we celebrated the 50th Birthday of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eric Carle's classic has introduced millions of children to the amazing life cycle of a butterfly.
Anyone familiar with the tale will know that the leading larva hatches on a Sunday and spends Monday to Friday eating fruit. On Saturday the caterpillar's diet takes an interesting turn as it binges on junk food including cakes, cheese and salami.
Although there is a fictional element to this otherwise educational story, the eating habits of a caterpillar are probably more varied than you might imagine.
Multi-purpose compost can have a peat content of more than 75%. But the peat being extracted from bogs, put into plastic bags and sold at the shops is far more valuable left in the ground where it formed.
Peatbogs provide a unique wetland habitat for swamp loving plants and wildlife yet we are destroying them faster than they can form. Butterflies, moths, otters, water voles and wading birds are just some of the animals affected.
Nick Mann from native plant supplier, Habitat Aid, has written a blog explaining why bogs are worth saving and what you can use in your garden instead of peat.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a sombre report last week revealing that the foundations of our ecosystem are eroding as species populations spiral ever faster downwards.
Just a week earlier our research confirmed that moths continue to struggle due to habitat loss and climate change.
Five million moth records, submitted by thousands of volunteers, show that moth abundance has fallen in Scotland by almost 50% in the last 25 years.
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Find out how you can give butterflies and moths a future.
Handy tools to identify a butterfly or day-flying moth.
Images: The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle), Planting a peat-free pot (Freia Turland), Common Blue (Keith Warmington), Poplar Hawk-moth (David G Green), Lackey moth caterpillars (David G Green), Emperor Moth (Bob Eade).