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Butterfly Houses for the Garden: A Guide
By Ark Wildlife
18th July 2014
A Butterfly House or Butterfly Feeder added to the garden can encourage a wider range of species of butterflies than you may otherwise see.
The image that springs to mind when considering butterflies is that of bright sunny days with these delicate insects displaying wonderfully bright colours and an almost fanciful if not erratic flight as if there is no set destination in mind.
What to put in a butterfly house
With numerous butterfly species under threat, placing a butterfly house can make a real difference in sheltering these beautiful, delicate creatures and protecting them from predators. Make sure that your butterfly house contains a piece of bark or a branch for them to land on once they fly inside it, and make a sugar solution to attract them.
From the insect family ‘Lepidptera’, there are nearly 60 butterfly species resident in the UK, along with a few regular visitors flying in from Europe. However, many species require very specialised habitats such as chalk downland or coppiced woodland and are therefore unlikely to appear in our domestic gardens.
Amongst the 10 species most likely to be spotted in UK gardens are the Whites, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, and Small Tortoiseshell. With more and more of us creating wildlife friendly areas or carefully planning the planting of flower beds, we not only aid already resident butterflies but attract more of the less common species.
Butterfly populations are recorded because they are considered an ‘indicator species’. This is because their numbers rise and fall rapidly depending on the prevailing climate. Over recent decades their numbers have fallen dramatically although the summer of 2013 did see many species bounce back to safer levels. Charities such as Butterfly Conservation do excellent work monitoring and researching butterfly populations through schemes such as the Big Butterfly Count.
How to attract butterflies to a butterfly house?
Using paint to decorate your butterfly house with bright colours can help to make it stand out and appear attractive to butterflies. In addition, adding natural materials such as bark to the front of it can make it appear more like a natural part of its surroundings.
Make a sugar solution to attract butterflies into the house by mixing one part sugar to four parts water, and bringing it to the boil to completely dissolve the water. Put it in a dish and place a sponge in the solution to help butterflies drink it. Make sure you change this at least once a week.
Where to hang a butterfly house
You should hang your butterfly house in a spot which is both sunny and sheltered, in order to ensure it is visible but protected from the wind where needed. Place it approximately four to six feet above ground level, to keep it out of the way of predators such as cats, and try to put it close to flowers which are rich in nectar (such as lavender) as these will act as an additional source of food for the butterflies.