This year’s wet weather, combined with last year’s colder than average temperatures has led to a decline in butterfly populations in the UK.
Poor weather during butterflies’ flying period means that butterflies are less able to spread or feed, or set up territories . More importantly they are not able to mate and lay eggs.
The weather also has an effect on other wildlife such as birds who suffer when water and the ground freezes over.
So what can the public do to help?
The Tropical Butterfly House in North Anston, near Sheffield is encouraging visitors to take part in the Butterfly Count from 15 July until 7 August 2016 . The count gives experts a clearer indication of how butterflies species are progressing.
Taking part is really easy, just go to the Big Butterfly Count website: www.bigbutterflycount.org, download the butterfly chart or free app on IOS and Android, pick a spot for your count (for example a sunny spot in your garden) and identify an d count the butterflies you find in 15 minutes! There is even a butterfly guide on the website to help you identify the butterflies. Submit a photo and you c ould even win a prize.
Members of the public can also help by planting a variety of plants in their gardens that supply nectar for the butterflies, preferably in sunny, sheltered areas. Some great examples of nectar plants are buddleia, lavender, wallflowers, bramble, marjoram (oregano), heather, and forget - me - nots . For more examples and information on what time of year to plant them, just check butterfly conservation websites.
Another good idea for gardens are butterfly houses, which can be built from bits of wood or purchased in gardening centres or online. Butterfly houses provide a shelter for butt e rflies throughout the year, with predators finding it difficult to access the butterflies. Ideally place your butterfly house near flower gardens, a few feet off the ground.
The Tropical Butterfly House is located just five minutes from the M1, junction 31, see www.butterfly house.co.uk to plan your visit. Visitors who come to the centre between 20 th July and 4 th September will see the Amazing Animals Superheroes event ; normal admission charges apply.
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