Butterflies are known to be pretty scarce across east Anglian farmland, and this makes sense given the vast expanses of cereals that grow across most of it and the fact that 70% of butterfly species are in decline in the UK anyway. Of course, that doesn’t have to be the case, and where wild flowering plants are allowed to flourish – so will the butterflies.
At the Hope farm, 26 butterfly surveys are undertaken throughout the summer, and today was one of those fruitful days where the benefits of floristic and Pollen and Nectar margins become very obvious. Here are a few of the gems that we discovered whilst out for the afternoon…
After a couple of hours I wondered whether I was being more of a help or hindrance on the butterfly survey, bouncing with each step, and thrusting my camera up in front of my eyes with every butterfly that landed in my path. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic afternoon.
I also came to realise that the habitat which every butterfly had been found on was in agricultural terms a classified weed. Many farmers, members of the public, and to be honest, most of any kind of person controlling a patch of maintained outdoors, will spray most of these plants off, or cut them before they can set seed and spread further afield next year. Unfortunately I see more and more that if not replaced with another good resource, it will stop the butterflies propagating too.
Today, my love for weeds grew, as I understood even more how valuable native wild plants are for wildlife. Invertebrates and other animals have evolved over thousands of years to use weeds that would naturally become the most abundant resource in a semi-wild landscape. Maybe then, it seems reasonable for people to accommodate more small patches of these weeds, or similar plants useful to our pollinators in outdoor spaces, to learn to enjoy them just like I have today. If we can do that then I am sure that then we will see more of these beautiful butterflies across our landscape once more.