Butterfly Update 3 – Summers End

September has been a month with great variation in weather, with some lovely warm sunny days before the more recent cold and wet conditions, hence we might have expected to see a range of butterflies at least prior to the cooler days returning. In fact this has not been the case and only one species, the Small White, has been spotted in SE7 this month. We can speculate as to whether this might indicate a cause for concern, and the question of whether butterfly populations are in decline is one which has been discussed by many who follow wildlife.
Whatever the conclusion, it would be nice to think that in 2021, SE7 gardens will become more butterfly friendly, and we are fortunate in having information readily available as how to achieve just that.
A range of websites assists us with this and while we might be overwhelmed with detail, there are a number of relatively simple ways in which we can promote a more butterfly friendly habitat.
This month’s photograph shows the Small White on rocket which has been neglected / allowed to flower and clearly the butterfly is attracted to this. Perhaps we need to be slightly less tidy gardeners in terms of allowing ‘weeds’ to grow – as with ragwort – which provided just what the Gatekeeper wanted in the Troughton Road garden in July. Also Stinging Nettles are the host plant for the caterpillars of 5 of our most colourful butterflies. This explains why we now have a small patch of nettles in the garden at the station. While it is a relatively small patch, we have planted it there to remind us that while they may not be considered to be pretty, they are very attractive in a different sense. If you have room in your garden, you might consider adopting similar practices in order to attract a greater range of butterflies throughout SE7