Bees are not the only beneficial insects

Butterflies and bees are on the "A" list of celebrity insects at the moment and for good reason. They do a marvellous job of ensuring that we, and every other species in the planet, are supplied with flowers, fruit and seeds for food as well as for shelter, and for oxygen. For remember that all life ultimately depends on plants.  Dead plant material is recycled by mini beasts and soil microbes to make plant food to nourish the next generation of plants, many of whom will have germinated from seeds that were formed as a result of pollination by insects.

There, I've said it; insects, not just butterflies and bees. Moths, flies and hoverflies should join bees and butterflies on the list of creatures to be protected and admired for they work just as hard. Just because they don't sport stripy bottoms or glamorous wings, it doesn't mean that they deserve to be overlooked.

Moth populations in decline

Two thirds of the UK's 337 species of moth have declined in numbers over the last 40 years. Scientists have yet to determine the reasons behind the decline but it is thought that, along with butterflies and bumblebees, habitat loss and changes in the way we garden and farm our land will be strong contributing factors. Moths are important pollinators and are a food source for birds, bats and small mammals.

How to support moths and their caterpillars 

mullein moth caterpillar

One way to support moths is to plant a small area of native wild flowers. Plants like silene, or campions are a classic moth plant as are knapweeds. Typically, adult moths like paler coloured flowers that they can see at dusk, and they're also fond of scented flowers and ones with long tubes to accommodate their very long tongues.

Moth caterpillars are fussy eaters but if you have a good range of native trees and shrubs nearby, you should be able to support a wide variety of species.  You'll also be helping to feed birds who just adore caterpillars as snacks. Many caterpillars eat the roots and leaves of native grasses as well as plantains, docks, nettles and bedstraws.

 

 

 

Establishing wild flowers in the garden

A mix of native flowering plants and grasses are great at attracting and supporting moths - and creatures who feed on moths and their caterpillars.  98% of this type of habitat has been lost in the last 60 years due to development and intensive agriculture and so gardeners can do an enormous amount of good by re-establishing wild flower meadows along garden borders, lawn edges and margins.

Wild flower seeds however, are not always easy to get established and even the most experienced gardener can be frustrated by poor germination and weed infestations.  Meadowmat wild flower matting is an ideal way for inexperienced, time-constrained or impatient gardeners to start off a wild flower meadow quickly and easily.

Watch this video to find out how it works.