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Digital Subscriptions > Kitchen Garden Magazine > 259 - April 2019 > FLIGHTS OF FANCY

FLIGHTS OF FANCY

Butterflies aren’t just pretty to look at – they perform an invaluable function in the garden, contributing to its overall health and performance. So let’s attract as many of them as we can, suggests Benedict Vanheems
Painted lady

When it comes to helping out wildlife it’s easy to remain fixated on the birds and the bees. But there’s a suite of other garden visitors to look out for too, including flutters of butterflies and moths. Like so much of our wildlife these winged beauties have had a tough time of late. Numbers are down and some species have even been rendered extinct.

The good news is it’s easy to do our bit in turning their fortunes around. And because butterflies and moths support so many other creatures higher up the food chain, any efforts to help them will have a far-reaching impact.

WHY THEY MATTER

Butterflies and moths are an intrinsic part of the natural environment. In Britain alone there are 59 species of butterflies, two of which – the painted lady and clouded yellow – undertake epic migrations to warmer climes for winter. Yet this impressive diversity is modest compared to that of moths, of which there are more than 2,500 different species in the UK alone.

Together, butterflies and moths perform essential services in the ecosystem. As well as pollinating many plants, including vegetables and fruits, they serve as a food source to a mindboggling array of amphibians, mammals and countless birds, including a plethora of garden favourites like blue tits. Butterflies and moths are a proxy for the overall health of the wider environment – lots of them mean lots of other insects and the wildlife that feeds off them. Create a butterfly-friendly garden and everything else will follow.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

Welcome to Kitchen Garden Magazine In this issue: A Joy of Summer Veg expert Rob Smith has some top tips for success with courgettes every time Brilliant Brassicas! Former head gardener Sue Stickland explores our changing attitudes to brassicas and the many exciting new varieties available Flights of Fancy Gardener and nature enthusiast Ben Vanheems encourages us all to make room for butterflies on our plots And much more!