Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Buddleia, butterflies and controversy part 2

Hello dear reader. Not much to report except that the nice people at Butterfly Conservation kindly emailed me a list of native nectar plants for our british butterflies, moths and pollinators and like I said before, as soon as I got the list, I'd publish it.

So here it is:

Creeping thistle Cirsium arvense
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg
Wild Marjoram Origanum vulgare
Common Knapweed Centaurea nigra
Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Heather Calluna vulgaris
Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus
Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum
Common Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica
Red Clover Trifolium repens
Common Ivy Hedera Helix
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Primrose Primula vulgaris
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
Teasel Dipsacus fullarmum

It's interesting to see that the majority of the above plants, would be considered by your average gardner to be weeds. Yet, some of these plants wouldn't look out of place in a victorian garden. This, I imagine, is one of the reasons for the decline in our pollinators. With technology came the ability to grow and transport large exotic plants around the world, and lets face it, given the choice I would imagine most home owners would pick a lovely looking Dahlia over a Yarrow any day. The thing is, the Yarrow probably has more nectar within it than the Dahlia which has been purely bred for looks alone, nothing else. Our gardens may look full of wonderful colour, but they are basically a pollen desert! And what's worse is that these plants, using their bright bold colours, shout out to every passing insect "GET IT HERE!" When the insect uses all its energy to go and get IT, the poor thing finds meagre offings of nectar. So, it's wasted a lot of energy and time visiting plants for little reward which can only affect how a species lives and breeds.
When you think about the creeping thistles, brambles, clovers and teasels, where do you see these plants in the wild? Teasels, thistles and brambles can be seen along the highways and motorways of the UK. However, the poor insects have to gamble getting splattered by the cars and trucks whizzing past over getting a meal. Our parks and public spaces are well maintained with mown grass fields that are rich in clover and birds foot trefoil, however, they're mown so often, they very rarely get the chance to flower. My mother's lawn is riddled with clover and last year she didn't mow it as often as the average lawn needs mowing. The amount of bumblers (as my wifey calls them) that visited her garden was amazing. My mother isn't very much a nature type person, but she did comment that the continual sounds of bees buzzing all day was a lovely background noise.
I can also attest to the wild thyme too. Last year this was growing in my garden and it was always covered in bees from the moment the sun rose. I used to actually stroke the bees as they were busy feeding, they didn't mind at all (I know, I'm a hippy).
So there you have it peeps, for those of you who want to keep it native. It won't be long (fingers crossed) till spring is finally here. Already I've heard of a few people finding some moths out west, so I might dust the moth trap off and give it an airing this weekend, weather permitting of course. I'll let you know what I find. 

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