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BUTTERFLIES VISITING NECTAR SOURCES IN AN IPSWICH GARDEN RICHARD STEWART We moved to our present house on Westerfield Road in late November 1995. Since then it has been the intention to design and manage the gardens to attract a wide variety of wildlife, especially butterflies. The garden, front and back, is approximately a fifth of an acre and faces east. It attracts sunlight from the south for much of the day and with the removal of a large tree by our next door neighbours, shafts of evening sunlight penetrate to the back garden. The location forms part of a long series of mature gardens which stretch to the old cemeteries adjacent to the Ipswich – Felixstowe railway line, itself marked as a designated ‘green corridor’ on planning maps. Close to the house another ‘green corridor’ links Westerfield Road to Tuddenham Road. Since we moved in only two adverse developments have occurred: our neighbours have redesigned their back garden to a more formal and less wildlife-friendly habitat, while the large field across the road is now covered by housing. Previously it had areas of rough pasture and bramble bushes, which attracted many butterfly species. On 29 July 2007 a Brown Argus butterfly was identified in our garden, this being the 27th recorded species. It seemed unlikely that any further species would be seen and my attention was marginally diverted to studying the nectar plants we provided and which species visited them to feed. Forty five nectar sources were available but four butterfly species, though recorded in the garden, had not been seen feeding: Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Swallowtail and Clouded Yellow. The 45 nectar sources are listed below, with the species feeding on them and some additional observations: 15 - Buddleia davidii: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Purple Hairstreak, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, (Plate 11) Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown. This tall purple flowering Buddleia is in a sunny position close to our kitchen window. Its flowering period is extended by frequent deadheading. 15 - Marjoram: Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet. Several beds of Marjoram also attract many foraging bees. 12 - Aubretia: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma. One bed is adjacent to our pond while the other, at the far end of the back garden, forms part of a long sunlit border to the vegetable plot. Aubretia has normally ceased flowering before the arrival of summer species such as Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. 10 - Verbena bonariensis: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper. This tall plant benefits from a long flowering period and is underplanted with other nectar sources.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 48 (2012)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 48

8 - Candy Tuft: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Wall, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown. 8 - Sedum spectabile: Large White, Small White, Red AdmiraI, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, Wall. The pink variety of this late flowering plant attracts most butterflies. 8 - Lavender: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Painted Lady, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown. Lavandula stoechas ssp pedunculata attracts most species. 8 - Wallflower Bowles mauve: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Greenveined White, Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Comma. This has a long flowering period. 7 - Buddleia weyeriana: Large White, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper. This is a yellow flowering late variety, which with regular deadheading can flower through into December. Our specimen has climbed above the top of an adjacent pine, in which Red AdmiraIs have successfully hibernated. 6 - Buddleia alternifolia: Small White, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Meadow Brown. This early variety has pendulous boughs with mauve flowers. 6 - Thyme: Green-veined White, Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown. Despite being next to Marjoram, it attracts more bees than butterflies. 5 - Arabis: Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Comma. This grows in the long border already mentioned, separating the vegetable plot from the lawn. 5 - Cultivated Strawberry: Small White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Painted Lady, Peacock. 4 - Golden Rod: Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood. This is a disappointing total for a species that is tall and in a sunny position, also frequently being included in lists of good garden nectar sources for butterflies. 4 - Osteospermum: Large White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Gatekeeper. 3 - Cotoneaster: Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell. 3 - Mexican Orange Blossom: Large White, Small White, Common Blue. This is one of the few nectar sources just growing in the front garden and therefore observed less frequently. 3 - Laurel: Green Hairstreak, Red Admiral, Peacock. In recent years this has had a partial second flowering but nectaring has only been observed in spring.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 48 (2012)



These eighteen nectar sources attract most butterflies. Those remaining are listed below with either two or one species in brackets. Yellow Wallflower (Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell), Pink Geranium (Large White, Green-veined White), Primula (Peacock, Comma), Crocus (Peacock, Comma), Honesty (Small White, Green-veined White), Dame’s Violet (Red Admiral, Painted Lady), Glory of the Snow (Peacock, Comma), Hyacinth (Peacock, Comma), Michaelmas Daisy (Large White, Red Admiral), Summer Jasmine (Large White), Mint (Gatekeeper), Dandelion (Green-veined White), Valerian (Painted Lady), Buddleia davidii, white flowering (Painted Lady), Curry Plant (Red Admiral), Periwinkle (Green-veined White), Bluebell (Green-veined White), Grape Hyacinth (Green-veined White), Sedum var. Autumn Joy (Comma), Pyracantha (Red Admiral), Plum blossom (Comma), Poached Egg Plant (Painted Lady), Meadow Cranesbill (Large White), Daffodil (Peacock), Scabious (Small Tortoiseshell) Teucrium (Meadow Brown), Lantana (Green-veined White). Many of these nectar sources attracting one or two species are single plants and both Lantana and Valerian are grown in containers, the latter attracting more moths than butterflies. The Michaelmas Daisies are not in the large drifts that attract autumn butterflies. Two species of migrant moth, the Silver Y and the Hummingbird Hawk Moth, have also been recorded nectaring in the garden. The Silver Y has been noted on Buddleia davidii purple flowering, Buddleia weyeriana, yellow flowering, Verbena bonariensis, Summer Jasmine and Valerian. The spectacular Hummingbird Hawk moth has fed on Buddleia davidii, purple flowering, Verbena bonariensis and Valerian. Soft fermenting fruit, mainly plum and apple chunks, has been placed in a bowl on the lawn, being moved occasionally into other sunlit positions. It has attracted feeding Red Admirals, Commas (Plate 12) and Speckled Woods. The vast majority of the plants mentioned have deliberately been listed under the common name that is familiar to gardeners. Richard Stewart 112 Westerfield Road Ipswich Suffolk IP4 2XW

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 48 (2012)

R. Stewart R. Stewart

Plate 11: Small Tortoiseshells feed on summer flowering Buddleia davidii (p. 145).

Plate 12: Comma feeding on soft chunks of plum (p. 147).


Richard Stewart