With spring comes flowers, and with flowers come bugs. Lots of people hat creepy crawlies, but there is at least one insect that we can all love because it benefits are gardens and because it is a creature of sheer beauty. It is the butterfly. There are hundreds of species of butterfly, and they come in an array of gorgeous colours.
Unfortunately, while pests like flies, midges, and gnats are ever on the increase, butterflies are in high decline. According to the Butterfly Conservation, there has been a 72% worldwide drop in population in the last ten years, and a 54% drop in the UK alone. Surveys show that 2012 was particularly bad year.
The organisation work tirelessly to try and improve the situation, but need public support to do it. That is why they run Save Our Butterflies Week, which this year is between the 18th-26th May.
There will be events and activities up and down the UK, so anyone can get involved. To start with, they ask that you download an Butterfly ID sheet and start taking note of which species you spot around your area. You can then take the sheet with you to one of their events and learn about them.
If you're interested in taking part you can see the full list of events here. It will include walks, field trips, surveys, setting moth traps, talks, and workshops. When you go to one of the events, don't forget to take your camera. They are holding a competition for 'the best butterfly in a landscape', 'the best butterfly image', and 'the best picture taken on a mobile phone'. You can upload your pictures to Flickr, and the winner will receive wildlife books and be featured in their Autumn magazine.
Another competition for the fashion conscious gives you the chance to win a butterfly printed t-shirt by Oasis. Oasis has designed a new range called Born and Bred, featuring butterfly prints, with 10% of sales going towards the Butterfly Conservation. To enter, just fill in this form.
While most people go to great lengths to get rid of nettles from their garden, the Butterfly Conservation are asking you to plant them. Butterflies lay their eggs on nettles, and if you keep your own nettle patch, you'll be inviting the butterflies into your garden. This will benefit you as well as the butterflies, because, in turn, they will pollinate the rest of your flowers.