Widespread across Southern and Central Britain, Wales and as far North as Scotland, usually seen from the beginning of April through to June.
The male Orange-tip butterfly, is quite striking in flight with an orange patch on the outer half of the fore-wings, and black wing tips.
The female however lacks the orange patch on the fore-wings but both share marbled-green under-wings, black wing tips and a black spot on fore-wings.
Often found in a wide range of habitats, Orange tip butterflies can be seen anywhere, from country lanes and forest paths, to gardens and parks. Particularly active on warm sunny spring days, they fly close to the ground, stopping briefly to nectar before continuing.
Orange-tip Butterfly showing green patterned under-wings
Male Orange-tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines)
Family group : Pierinae – Whites.
Wingspan around: 40mm.
When: April-June with numbers peaking around mid May although this may vary from year to year.
The Wild or Woodland Strawberry is similar, in appearance to the well known garden strawberry although still edible it is overall much smaller. In the UK they can often be found growing in many dry grassy places, from Woodland rides, Meadows and Gardens to Road side verges, often sending out long runners and colonising any available ground.
The leaves of the strawberry plant are made up of three oval leaflets, the small flowers have 5 white petals and a rich yellow centre and appear April to July.
Wild strawberry fruit or berries, may be found from June through to October, although small size they are stronger tasting and are often used commercially in jams and medicines.
Wild Strawberry Plant with Red Berries
Wild Strawberry Plant in Flower
Type: Perennial Herb
Also Known As: Woodland Strawberry
Where: Commonly found through-out Britain
Habitat: Often found on well drained – Meadows, Road side verges, woodland Clearings, Gardens and tracks.
Urban Gardens could play an important role in Butterfly Conservation
Gardens can play an important role in increasing the population and spread of some of our native and migrant butterfly species.
We are encouraged to use far less chemicals in the garden, and switch to more organic methods, like composting, and the use of natural fertilizers for our plants and vegetables, these changes can help to create a safer environment for us and our wildlife.
Orange-tip Butterflies may be seen in gardens from early Spring
These planted areas create what is known as a Green Corridor, allowing the movement of butterflies and other insects and wildlife through urban environments.
There are wildlife friendly plants and seed kits available to create a butterfly garden, and give things a great start.
Peacock Butterflies seen in Gardens Spring and Mid Summer
Setting aside an area of the garden how ever big or small, for a selection of easy maintenance Flowers, or Shrubs, like Buddleia, Wild Marjoram (oregano), some Meadow Grasses maybe a few Nettles, will encourage butterflies and moths as well as other beneficial insects like Ladybirds and Hoverflies into the garden.
A fast growing climber, Honeysuckle is seen by many as a traditional garden shrub, often seen in gardens growing up a trellis or trailing over walls and fences.
Honeysuckle flowers generally appear from June-August and vary in colour from creamy white, pink, red and light yellow. They are mainly trumpet shaped, and give off an unmistakable sweet scent, most noticeable late evening and at night.
The flowers are followed by bunches of red berries which ripen in Autumn and are often eaten by wild birds during the winter months.
Probably the most popular variety of honeysuckle is Lonicera periclymenum (Woodbine) a native species which grows wild in woodlands and hedgerows throughout Europe.
It is deciduous (loses leaves in Autumn) with particularly fragrant light yellow flowers flushed with pink/purple and may grow to a height of 5-6m.In Britain wild honeysuckle can sometimes be seen growing up trees in woodland, spreading amongst hedgerows, and other plants using then for support.
The leaves are grey – green and oval shaped.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) red berries
Common Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) Woodbine in flowering in Woodland, growing amongst Blackthorn and Wild Privet
Honeysuckle for the Garden
Honeysuckles grown specifically for the garden can vary in that, some are deciduous others are evergreen and semi-evergreen. The flowers also can be trumpets or funnel shaped, often forming clusters, although some can occur in pairs depending on the species. Traditionally scented, some Honeysuckles can also have little or no scent, but make up for this with masses of spectacular flowers.
Name: Honeysuckle (Lonicera. Sp)
Height: May grow up to 5m if supported.
Position: sun or semi shade
Care: Feed or water if needed, prune or shape if required in Winter or Spring
Pale yellow and ivory flowers from midsummer to September, and a powerful sweet perfume, make Honeysuckle ‘Scentsation’ a delightful garden climber. It is a great plant to let trail over a garden wall, or train up a fence or trellis. After flowering the glossy red berries are an attractive food for garden birds in late summer
RHS Perfect for pollinators: Yes
Type: Hardy Shrub
Colour: Pale yellow and Ivory
Flowering Period: July, August, September.
Position: sun or semi shade.
Great For: scented gardens, woodland garden, Fences and Walls
Honeysuckle ‘Belgica’ a colourful sweet scented climber
A hardy climber Honeysuckle ‘Belgica’ has sweet scented flowers that begin white and gradually turn yellow with rich red streaks. Early Dutch Honeysuckles usually flower early summer and often follow up with a second flush of blooms in late summer, September to October. The glassy red berries that are loved by garden birds.
Lonicera Japonica Halliana is an evergreen Honeysuckle that produces masses of creamy white and yellow very fragrant flowers, all spring and summer. Also known as Japanese Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle ‘Halliana’ is a vigorous climber and will rapidly make it’s way up a trellis or wall, plant in the garden near windows or doors to fully appreciate the wonderful scent.
Also known as: Japanese Honeysuckle
Type: Full Hardy climber
Planting Position: Full sun to partial shade
Flowering: May to September
soil type: Most well drained
A great plant for attracting wildlife to your garden
A robust climber with long, red and orange trumpet-shaped flowers that continue to bloom from July through to September. Although unscented, Honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ makes up for this with masses of colourful flowers, vigorous growth and semi-evergreen blue-green foliage, ideal for hiding an unsightly area of the garden like a wall or fence, or trailed through a large mature tree.
Type: Hardy shrub
Colour: Orange and red (Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle)
Flowering: July, August, September
Planting Position: Full sun to partial shade.
Soil Type: In fertile, moist, free draining soil.
Height and Spread: 4m (13′), 2m (7′).
Ideal For: Wildlife garden, Cottage garden, walls and trellis
The Comma Butterfly is quite distinctive in appearance, its bright orange and brown colouring and unusual jagged wing shape make it quite easy to identify even from some distance.
Widespread across England and Wales, Comma Butterflies can often be seen in woodland clearings, on open rides, hedgerows and maybe even in the garden. They can be seen on the wing from early March to September, often in a sheltered sunny spot basking in the warm sunshine.
The males are often quite territorial and may be seen patrolling a section of hedgerow or woodland path sometimes quite boldly making their appearance known to other male Commas.
The Comma may also make an appearance on quite cool days with intermittent sunshine, sometimes resting hardly noticeable wings closed in the subdued sunlight, taking flight at even the slightest disturbance heading upward to find a safer perch.
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) in garden on leaf
Upper-wings: are orange with dark brown markings. Under-wings are mottled browns with a small white comma shape marking, from which it gets its name.
Brambles is often a name referring to the native blackberry bush, a thorny perennial plant that can often be seen growing wild amongst hedgerows and in gardens and woodland. It is able to tolerate even poorest soil types, and if left unchecked, often spreads, covering large areas of ground.
Its distinctive growth of long ‘biennial stems’ also known as Canes, these are covered along their length in sharp spines or thorns. In late Spring/early Summer stems of white petalled flowers appear from the canes attracting many species of butterflies, and other insects like hoverflies and bees.
Comma Butterfly on ripe Blackberries
The blackberry is one of a group of more than 350 different species found around the world, these include raspberries, cranberries and loganberries.
There are also many hybrid varieties available specifically for the garden, some of which like ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Black Pearl’ even have thorn-less canes.
Bramble Blackberry (Rubus spp.) flowers on bush
As the flower petals fall away first signs of the green fruit begin to appear, growing in size during the summer and turning from red to black when fully ripened in the Autumn.
The blackberries when ripe attract butterflies, wild birds, small mammals and humans, although newly grown plants don’t produce flowers or fruit until their second year.
Well known as a native wildflower, Scabious with its range of cultivated varieties and colours also makes it a traditional garden favourite. Its constant flowering throughout the summer months, makes it the perfect plant for when little else is flowering, such as in late July.
Scabious is a great choice for any wildlife garden, or meadow, its steady supply of nectar rich flowers will attract pollinating insects, like Butterflies and Bees.
Wild native varieties like the common “Field Scabious” (Knutia arvensis) or the less common “Small Scabious” (Scabosa columbaria) can be found throughout England and Wales, flowering June-September they may be found on dry calcareous (lime or Chalk) grassland. Similar looking the two sometimes confused.
Devil’s-Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) has smaller rounded flowers around 15-25mm across and is found in much damper conditions, than the Field or Small Scabious.
Field Scabious flower head
Also Known As: Pincushion flower
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Sow seeds: February, March, April, May, June
Flowering: May – September or until the first frost
Height: Around 50-60cm
Soil: Well drained Lime-Chalk /Alkaline.
Well known varieties
Two of the most well known varieties are possibly Scabious ‘Blue Jeans’ and Scabious ‘Butterfly Blue’, their abundance of flowers throughout the summer makes these real garden favourites.
New Scabious plants when large enough can be put out from April in a frost free position, always allow about a week for them to acclimatise and the risk of frost has passed before planting out 30-40 cm apart, varieties with large blooms may need light support if the weather is particularly wet or windy. Remove dead flowers (dead heading) during the growing season every week or so, new blooms will soon take their place.
In Autumn or when the Scabious plants have turned brown and died back they can be cut down to ground level, this can also be done in the spring, when plants can be propagated by division.
To keep a stock of healthy plants, Scabious requires some propagation this is best done March-April by root division, this requires lifting and dividing young plants into one or two divisions and replanting, or replacing the older less vagarious growing plants.
A regular visitor to the gardens, the Red Admiral may be seen throughout the British Isles, often attracted in numbers by nectar rich flowers such as Buddleia and Rudbekia around July to August.
Out of the Garden, a sunny sheltered spot with flowering Ivy or Hemp Agrimony, may also attract Red Admiral butterflies, although they are rarely seen in numbers before June.
They may even still be seen on the wing till late October – November on sunny days if a nectar source is still available.
With a large 60mm wingspan the Red Admiral is a strong flying butterfly, able to glide and manoeuvre after a small number of quick wing beats. The mainly black or brown colouration, broad red bands and white spots on the fore-wings and broad red band on the hind-wings make it easy to identify. The under-wings are a mottled black-brown .
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on Ivy flower
Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)
The Red Admiral is seen as a migrant butterfly from Europe, arriving in Britain and Ireland from May-June. It is believed that with the milder winters of recent years, some are managing to hibernate during short cold periods, creating a resident population mainly across the south of England.
Seen as one of our commonest and successful garden butterflies, the small Tortoiseshell is widespread, and may be seen across all parts of Britain and Ireland, often around patches of nettles or nectaring on wild flowers like, Dandelion, Thistles, Marjoram, Ragwort, and Buddleia in late summer.
Usually seen from March through to October, the butterflies emerge from two broods in a year, the first is in June and the second, August to September, some of the adult butterflies from the later brood hibernate, appearing again on sunny days in early Spring.
In the last few years, the pretty Small Tortoiseshell butterfly has unfortunately seen a massive decline in numbers, the cause of the falling numbers is not yet completely known, although changes in weather patterns are not being ruled out.
Small Tortoiseshell (aglais urticae) wings-closed on Buddleia
Small Tortoiseshell (aglais urticae) on white Buddleia
2013 was a good year for the small Tortoiseshell with a good number of sighting across the country. After a mild winter 2013-2014 it seems a good few made it through winter hibernation. I have seen more this March and April than in previous years at this time.
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Family Group: Browns – Nymphalidae
Upper-wings: are a rich, orange with black spots on the front edge of the fore wings, Blue crescents sit in a Black margin around the fringes of the hind wings.
A Common UK resident butterfly seen almost everywhere, in a wide range of habitats, such as Gardens, Hedgerows, Meadows and Roadside Verges.The small white butterfly is double brooded, the adult butterflies emerge twice a year peaking in numbers in April – May and July – August.
The Small White is also known as the “Cabbage White” and shares this name with Large White Butterfly, the caterpillars of both butterflies, annoy many vegetable gardeners across the country.
Small White Butterfly-male- (Pieris rapae) with open wings
Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae)
The upper-wings of the male are white, with a grey tips whereas the female has two black dots on the fore-wings.
The under-wings are pale yellow.