With the lovely weather in Shropshire over the last few weeks, we’ve been seeing an increase in the number of butterflies in the wildflower meadow. The meadow is a bit more wild than flower at the moment. However, this means there are lots of nettles for the butterflies to lay eggs on and for the caterpillars so eat.
I’m always excited to see the first painted butterfly of the year. The painted lady is actually a long distance migrant to the UK. You can read a bit more about it here.
I’m holding stubbornly on to summer here at Hopton House. I love Autumn in Shropshire, but I don’t feel like I’ve had quite enough of Summer and, astronomically speaking, Autumn doesn’t start till nearly the end of September.
Autumn is a great time to see butterflies as they feed themselves up ready for hibernation. I managed to photograph this beautiful small tortoiseshell this week. I try and make sure we have lots of nectar plants that extend the season as long as possible for nectar loving insects. The marjoram and the mint flowers outside of the dining room are attracting quite a few butterflies this year.
Small tortoiseshells love to feed on quite a few wild and garden flowers. These butterflies in autumn love to feed on flowering herbs , as well as heather, bramble flowers and thistles. Buddleia is of course a favourite. If you deadhead it throughout the season it will continue producing flowers for longer.
Like many UK Species, the small tortoiseshells are in decline. They need nettles to lay their eggs on and are most often seen where they are lots of nettles. So gardeners can help by having a small wild patch in their garden; allow a few nettles and thistles to grow along side your nectar rich flowers.
A bit of a tip here; something I only discovered last year. If you find a butterfly in your house this autumn, catch it and take it outside to a cool outbuilding. Butterflies in Autumn are looking for somewhere to hibernate. As the days get cooler they come into houses looing for somewhere cool and dry. The main problem with our modern houses are they’re too warm for them to hibernate and, if you allow the butterfly to stay, they’ll probably not survive.
For more information about small tortoiseshell butterflies click here
Bed and Breakfast Shropshire, B&B near Ludlow and Hopton Castle