If a butterfly flaps its wings...
Where have they all gone? Our butterfly population was very sparse this year. If you did the Big Butterfly count, then you will know that the numbers are at an all-time low since the project began thirteen years ago. You would think that with this hot summer we would have had lots of butterflies but no, there were very few in our garden this time. We have grown flowers especially for them, but they did not come very often. What was wrong?
The only explanation must be that there is not the correct
habitat for them. The caterpillars need the right leaves to eat and the
chrysalises need special places to hibernate. I was surprised to see that the
gatekeeper butterfly came in as the most common, but it is not one that most of
us know. It is a little brown shy creature with ‘eyes’ on each wing. I found
ours in Oak Meadow in amongst the wild grasses and on the bramble flowers at
our gate. They are often at gateway scrub land and that is where they get their
You might think that we have all got a lot more to worry
about than the loss of butterflies. The world situation does not seem so good
and there are any number of crises to think about and the butterfly predicament
is not one of them. But I am not so sure. Have you heard the saying beginning,
‘If a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere in Africa…’? The thought is that we
can trace most things that happen back to a chain of events which shape our
future. One small thing leads to another bigger thing.
Hoping to have more luck with the birds than the
butterflies, we have put our bird table out. I know a lot of people feed the
birds all year, but I think that we have enough wildlife here for the birds to
find food naturally in the summer. They do a good job because our apples are
free of codling moth caterpillars which rely on fruit and there are no
‘maggots’ on our raspberries. Are the birds eating the butterfly larvae too? Well,
no they can’t be the culprits because even the large white butterfly numbers
are down and their yellow and black caterpillars are horrors and are poisonous