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Butterfly  How to Attract More Colourful Butterflies to Your Garden

Red Admiral - Photo © Copyright 2005 Gary Bradley
Photo: G. Bradley

UK Safari Tip:
An ideal way to catch and observe butterflies without harming them is with a special butterfly net - click here


Adding plenty of nectar rich flowers to your garden will certainly enhance its beauty, and in the process it may attract a few butterflies. If you choose your plants carefully you can attract a greater variety species to your garden, and they'll keep coming from early spring, right through to late autumn. To encourage the butterflies to lay eggs in your garden you'll also want to provide the foodplants of their caterpillars (see Members Area factsheet).

Butterflies only fly when it's sunny. That's because they're solar powered. They need to warm up their bodies in the sun in order to generate enough energy to move about. You can provide them with a perfect sunbathing area by putting some rocks in a sunny, sheltered spot, safely out of the way of foot traffic. If you like to photograph butterflies this will be a great place to get your shots - especially early in the morning. Your flowers will also attract more butterflies if they’re in a sunny position.

To make sure your butterflies get a good nights sleep provide them with a place to roost each night. Some butterflies rest on the stems of flowers and grasses each night, but many feel safer higher off the ground in trees. If you have space, grow some climbing plants like ivy or honeysuckle.

Butterflies can’t drink from open water. The best way to provide water for them is to have some wet mud somewhere in the garden where they can land safely and slurp. This will also provide birds like house martins and nuthatches with nesting material. Dig a hole and then line it with a sheet of polythene. Put the soil back on top of the polythene, being careful to remove any sharp stones. Keep it very wet throughout the summer. 

Butterflies need a place to hibernate in the winter. Some, like the Skippers, hibernate as caterpillars inside grass stems. If you wait until spring to mow the grass this will give them a chance to develop into adult butterflies.

Track Down More Info

Factsheet containing a list of the most frequently seen butterflies, their favourite foodplants, and foodplants of their caterpillars (members only)

UK Safari Butterfly Section


 © 2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved