Monday, 12 February 2018

The first butterflies emerge...

It's mid-winter, but we might see a Brimstone or two - but plant some Buckthorn for them!

Welcome to February's ‘all aflutter’.
Despite sub-zero temperatures across much of the UK things are getting steamy this month as we investigate how the courtship rituals of butterflies and moths differ from our own. If the winter chill hasn't deterred you from getting out in the garden then take inspiration from this month's gardening blog and plant some Buckthorn. As well as overwintering butterflies appearing on sunny days, moths are starting to emerge. Some caterpillars can also be seen at this time of year, looking for a quick snack before hunkering down again. We've picked three species for you to keep an eye out for in February. If you're keen to brush up on your butterfly knowledge then make sure you snap up a ticket for our Butterfly Recorders Meeting.

Vying For A Valentine
February is the month of romance and if you are planning to wear your heart on your sleeve on the 14th, it's probably best that you don't take dating tips from a butterfly or moth.

Where we might dress to impress, butterflies flaunt their colourful wings. Male butterflies are often brighter with more elaborate markings than females of the same species. It's not uncommon for a female to end up mobbed by a group of males competing for her affections by flashing their finery.

In place of a spray of perfume, some female moths release pheremones to lure in a male. This scent can travel more than 100 metres on the wind, drawing in potential suitors. The boys will then aim to outdo each other with their aerial manoeuvres but if their dancing isn't up to scratch they will receive the cold shoulder.

Read our blog to find out about the more bizarre habits of love-struck butterflies and moths. If your Valentine is a wildlife enthusiast you can impress them with some Lepidoptera love stories.
Dig It: Buckthorn For Brimstones
Bare-rooted shrubs are best planted in autumn but early spring provides a second chance to add a Buckthorn bush to your butterfly-friendly garden.

Buckthorn provides caterpillar food as well as nectar for Brimstone butterflies.

Common Buckthorn is extremely hardy, will grow in almost any soil type and thrives in full sun or partial shade. Its dense and prickly foliage also makes an excellent boundary hedge, providing shelter for wildlife whilst thwarting potential trespassers.

As soon as your soil starts to thaw, take the opportunity to get digging. 
Look Out For:
Defend Nature
On Saturday 10 March we are mustering an army to take part in our Conservation Day Of Action. Events will take place on nature reserves across the UK to celebrate 50 years of Butterfly Conservation.

We need your help to make sure our reserves remain wildlife havens, not just on the Day of Action, but long into the future.

Please help combat butterfly and moth declines by making a donation today or joining up for a Day Of Action event in your area.

You could equip our troops with the necessary tools and training to battle scrub, repair fences and plant nectar sources.

Butterfly Conservation - Home
Butterfly Conservation - News and blog
Butterfly Conservation - Hedge your bets for Brimstones

Meanwhile, in north Devon:
Butterfly Conservation - Helping the UK's rarest butterfly

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