Tag: Natural gardens

Get your FREE ‘Butterflies and Moths Matter’ Eco-Poster

Get your FREE ‘Butterflies and Moths Matter’ Eco-Poster

Butterflies and Moths are very important pollinators and invertebrates. If we don’t start looking after the little things like Butterflies and Moths, we humans won’t survive on Earth.

Find out why Butterflies and Moths matter in this blog post.

The main information is summarised in a colourful poster I created for you. Download and print it, then put it up somewhere to remind you to save Butterflies and Moths…

Get your Poster Now!

Your poster can be printed in A4- or A3-size (depending on your printer settings) and is suitable for school classrooms, clubs, groups or even your bedroom wall.

Have fun saving little creatures! 🙂


 

Butterflies and Moths Matter! Here’s How You Can Help Them…

Butterflies and Moths Matter! Here’s How You Can Help Them…

Butterflies and Moths are fascinating, other-worldly, fluttery creatures. As it’s now summer in the Northern Hemisphere, you should be seeing them around flowers on sunny days, particularly butterflies. If you’re lucky.

I say ‘lucky’, because butterfly and moth populations, like many invertebrates and other species on this Earth, are in serious decline.

Besides being pretty reminders of summer and flowers, what do they do?

If you’re seeing butterflies or moths in your garden, it’s a key indicator that your garden is a fairly healthy mini-ecosystem, because if they’re around, it means there are food sources for them. And where there is food for them, there is food for others too.

So the presence of butterflies and moths usually means there are also other ecologically-important invertebrates like bugs, beetles, spiders, worms and bees, which in turn provide welcoming food for other animals like birds, bats, mice, hedgehogs, frogs and so on.

Collectively invertebrates (including insects, spiders, flies and worms) contribute hugely to life on Earth, doing extremely important and very specific jobs like pollinating plants, improving soil quality, providing natural pest control, and serving as food sources for other animals in the food chain.

Besides being part of the great web of life on Earth, butterflies and moths are intriguing. The idea that they go from leaf-bound caterpillars to flying beauties in one short life is amazing and should be celebrated.

What are the differences between butterflies and moths?

Often people think butterflies are more colourful, but while this may be generally true, there are many monochrome butterflies and many multi-coloured moths. Moths are also often more furry or fuzzy, but butterflies can be too.

The main differences are:

Butterflies are generally awake and seen in the daytime (preferring sunny weather), while moths are nocturnal and will often be seen fluttering around lights at night or resting on walls or trees.

Butterflies rest with their wings closed together vertically, whilst moths will rest with their wings wide open and flat against a surface.

Butterflies have longer, thinner antennae, while moths usually have shorter, feathery ones.

Butterflies create hard chrysalises to grow in from their caterpillar stage, while moths create soft, silky cocoons.

Are there any dangerous butterflies or moths?

The vast majority of butterflies and moths are not dangerous to humans, and none can bite.

However eating some species such as the Monarch Butterfly can be toxic because they eat toxic plants and the toxin remains in their bodies. And a few species of caterpillar can cause pain and swelling from touching their stinging spines or hairs on their bodies.

What about clothes-eating moths? Of the thousands of species of moths, only a few will attack clothes and they prefer dirty and undisturbed clothes.

How can we encourage butterflies and moths?

Make sure you encourage pollinator- and caterpillar-loving plants in your garden or plant pots. Do some research to find which plants and flowers they like, then plant them in your garden.

Try not to cut back bushes, trees and hedgerows. Plants not only provide food for butterflies and moths (and their caterpillars), but are their homes and nesting places too.

Do not kill, chop or pull out weeds. Many common weeds are essential food for butterflies, moths and other invertebrates, and weeds are plants too, so have a right to life like anything else.

Reduce or completely stop using weedkillers, herbicides, pesticides, slug pellets, moth balls, bug sprays and other garden poisons. These not only kill off food sources for invertebrates including bees, butterflies and moths, but often small creatures will be poisoned too, even if the poison wasn’t aimed at them. Remember: Any substance which is meant to kill some life will be dangerous in some way to all forms of life.

Visit and support public gardens, places and sanctuaries that actively encourage butterflies and moths. You can find out more here: North American Butterfly Association, USA  or Top 10 National Trust gardens to see butterflies, UK.

Take part in bee, butterfly and moth counts to help scientists monitor their numbers, such as these ones:

The Big Butterfly Count (July-August, UK): https://bigbutterflycount.org/

The Great British Bee Count (May-June, UK): https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bee-count

Blooms for Bees (Bumblebees count, UK): http://www.bloomsforbees.co.uk/

National Moth Recording Scheme (UK): http://www.mothscount.org/text/70/How_to_take_part.html 

Please get in touch! How often do you see butterflies and moths? Which are your favourite species and why? Which plants do they like? Do you feel their numbers have declined since your childhood? Please comment below this post. 🙂


Get this printable A4-size companion poster summarising why Butterflies and Moths are important and how to save them.


 

Sources and further reading

https://animals.mom.me/moths-dangerous-humans-6231.html

https://beewatch.abdn.ac.uk//beewatch/index.php?r=species/index

https://www.bigbeecount.org/

https://bigbutterflycount.org/

Home

https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/puss-moth

https://butterfly-conservation.org/how-you-can-help/get-involved/gardening/gardening-for-butterflies

https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/why-butterflies-matter

https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bee-count

10 Great Nectar Plants For Butterflies and Moths

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/moths-loved-not-loathed-only-few-after-clothes

https://www.livescience.com/34472-difference-between-moth-butterfly.html

http://www.mothscount.org/text/70/How_to_take_part.html

Home

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/home-garden/gardening/wildlife/top-10-national-trust-gardens-for-butterflies

What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

Photos thanks to pixabay.com


 

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

There’s a lot of talk lately about climate change, environmental destruction and ecological collapse, and how we’re all doomed if we don’t change our lifestyles.

Have you noticed how much of this protest is directed at governments and leaders? Sure, their views and actions are important, because they make the laws which protect natural habitats, enforce reduction and recycling of plastics, or require corporations to clean up their mess.

But individuals, like you and me, are able to accept and enact changes more easily and quickly than bureaucratic governments or profit-chasing corporations.

So we’re an essential part of the solution. How about we start changing our habits today?

A good place to start is in your own garden.

Why? Well, not only is it easier to start small, but it’s a good idea to make changes directly where we live, because that’s where we have the most impact on the planet’s health…

In our own homes and gardens, our places of work, how we travel, what we consume, and where we buy food and other products from…

Let’s start.

Here are 5 ways you can save the Earth in your own front, back or container garden.

1. Gardens should be natural havens for wildlife.

So often, our gardens are not natural – instead they are trimmed and poisoned geometric blocks of human-controlled or ‘fake’ nature.

All this does is discourage the small creatures and bugs which are so important for soil quality.

If mini-beasts are allowed to thrive, this brings biodiversity with lots of different plants and animals living there, which in turn encourages birds, small mammals and amphibians like hedgehogs, frogs and mice. And they’re all important to ensure nature is balanced.

Encourage all sorts of wildlife by planting bee-friendly and insect-encouraging plants, providing nesting places for them like sheltered and undisturbed areas with lots of hidey-holes and/or insect and bird boxes, and not using pesticides or herbicides of any sort.

Why’s this important? Because humans are killing off so much biodiversity everywhere – and in doing so, eventually we won’t be able to grow crops to feed humans or to feed the animals humans like to eat, and we won’t have enough insect pollinators which are essential for most crops.

2. Bees, insects and spiders are good.

They’re the ‘canaries’ of the garden world.

If you have lots of bugs, worms, invertebrates like snails and slugs, spiders, bees and other mini-beasts, it’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Stop using slug pellets, rat traps and bug sprays. Not only do these poisons kill off essential wildlife, but they increase the amount of life-killing chemicals in the air, water and soil.

Snails and mice and other so-called ‘pests’ are living beings too. And they have to eat. Think of creative ways of giving them food they like to eat so they don’t need to eat up your favourite plants.

3. Nurture and keep every tree, bush, branch and leaf.

Thinking about chopping that tree down because it spoils your view, or drops too many leaves?

Think again. Everywhere we are losing more trees and foliage than are planted. And although we should encourage and celebrate planting more trees, new trees take decades if not centuries to contribute significantly to cleaning our air and soil. So we need to keep all the older trees too!

Fallen leaves and branches not only provide havens for small wildlife, but they help to add essential nutrients back into the soil.

And trees and bushes are the homes of wildlife. Chopping back or cutting down plants means you’re taking their homes.

4. Weeds are plants too.

We need to look at nature in a different way. Instead of viewing it as inconvenient, messy or ugly, we need to allow it to thrive. All of it. Even so-called ‘ugly’ weeds.

Which, when you really look at them, aren’t so ugly after all. Some of them have thorns or grow aggressively, but they’re just trying to survive. Most so-called weeds are the first foods of the season or the favourite foods for insects, bees and invertebrates, and weeds are part of the wonderful natural diversity our natural spaces need more of. 

Weeds can be useful – not only as important indicators of your soil quality but many have health benefits too when consumed. Allowing weeds between other plants means you’ll have contributed to better soil, less pollution, and your garden will be full of nature and diversity!

Your garden might be considered ‘untidy’ by some, but more importantly, it will be life-giving instead of life-taking.

5. Banish those Earth-killing poisons.

Bug sprays, slug pellets, insecticides, pesticides, weedkillers and herbicides, especially Glyphosate-based ones, are a very significant and serious cause of environmental problems.

We’ve got to stop use life-destroying chemicals in our gardens, parks, public spaces and on our crops if we are to survive ourselves.

There are plenty of natural methods of removing the odd weed (but see point 4) or discouraging certain wildlife (but see points 1 and 2).

It’s also impossible to ensure poisonous chemicals only affect the plants or animals you were intending them for. Invariably others will be injured or die too, and the poisons will enter our air, soil and water.

And most garden chemicals are not only dangerous to plants and small animals, but very dangerous to humans too.

Every person has the power to change the world.

Your power is multiplied by all the actions other individuals take.

Here’s to gardens, and our planet, full of life. Let’s do it! 🙂

What do you think?

What are you doing in your garden to encourage wildlife? What do you think we should do about weeds, slugs, rats and spiders? Do you think messy, natural gardens can be beautiful?

Sources and Further Research

An entomologist explains why NOT to kill spiders – http://theconversation.com/should-i-kill-spiders-in-my-home-an-entomologist-explains-why-not-to-95912

Organic weed management – https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/weed-management

Save bees and pollinators – https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-and-wild-places/saving-species/save-bees-and-pollinators

Understanding the dangers of Glyphosate – https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/glyphosate-dangers/

Weeds in your garden have many uses – https://www.growwilduk.com/blog/weed-my-lawn 

Image credits: Thanks to artists and photographers of Pixabay.com