Butterflies are always associated with flowers and sunshine and for good reason. The butterflies we know and love are the adult form of the insect and they feed exclusively on nectar from flowers. Their larval stage is the caterpillar which feed on a variety of food plants and they may be unwelcome in the garden for the damage they do to plants.
Most caterpillars are dependent on only a few or even a single species of plants. The peacock butterfly depends on stinging nettles whilst a caterpillar, so tidy gardens mean fewer butterflies, which is why wildflowers are so important even though we would regard them as weeds in the garden.
Common blue butterflies can be seen here mating on Birds foot Trefoil.
The caterpillars feed on holly in spring and ivy in the autumn. There are two broods each year. The butterflies feed on tree sap and carrion but curiously second generation butterflies also like bramble flowers.
This Holly Blue was seen on 11th April 2011 and must have been one of the first to emerge.
A Painted Lady feeds on wild marjoram. We had a Painted Lady Summer in 2009 and 2019
Records of local butterflies to which Jill Lincoln has contributed can be found here at UK Butterflies.
Jill's records show that the seed trial areas are the most successful at attracting butterflies which means that we are making a difference.The reason is obvious as they have the most flowerings plants.Although it is very pleasing to see how much the other areas have improved because of recent careful management.
These records are maintained by the Butterfly Conservation Trust.
They have an excellent website http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/
For their infomation on Priority action butterfly species click here
Small blue butterfly on kidney vetch. Kidney vetch is the sole foodplant for the small blue and it is a priority action species for the UK. There is an information leaflet attached below.
Here is a map to show where butterflies have been found on Old Down.
One of the butterflies we want to bring to Old Down is the Chalkhill Blue. We need to establish the food plant, called Horseshoe Vetch, for the caterpillar before that can happen. You can see pictures of this butterfly in a field at the foot of Arreton Down in the Isle of Wight if you click here.
Food for Butterflies and Moths
Our moth experts have produced a report on the food plants essential for our lepidoptera. It makes very interesting reading and I think will be very useful help us plan our management strategy as they have come up with a number of suggestions. You can find it on the Moths page or click here
We have recently been able to produce a copy of our leaflet on Old Down and Beggarwood Butterflies, with the help of Council staff, in a downloadable form, which is found below.
For information on creating your own butterfly garden see: https://billyoh.com/resource/how-to-start-your-own-butterfly-garden. This link was found by Sarah, a very special young lady.