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11:00am Thursday 19th July 2012 in Countryside
THE threat to butterflies from declining habitats and changing weather conditions was highlighted at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
There are fewer than 60 species of butterfly resident in the UK, some of which are under threat. Research has shown that butterfly numbers across the countryside fell by almost a quarter last summer.
The Butterfly Jungles garden at the show was inspired by the threats butterflies are facing. It aimed to educate people about ways to protect the insects.
The garden demonstrated butterfly- friendly planting styles, with a gradual transition from wildflowers to prairie-style and exotic planting, concluding with a tropical butterfly greenhouse, containing live butterflies in a jungle-style habitat.
The garden mixed wildflowers, including caterpillar food plants, with cultivated nectar plants to create a sustainable habitat, where butterflies would not only visit for nectar, but stay and breed too.
Andrew Halstead, RHS principal scientist, said: “Butterflies play a crucial role in indicating the condition of Britain’s insect biodiversity. Other types of insect, including those important as pollinators, have also suffered declines in recent years. It is vital that we consider the needs of pollinators and provide them with the habitats and food resources they need.
“The RHS is committed to helping gardeners support biodiversity and, through our Perfect for Pollinators campaign, have introduced a guide to help gardeners identify and grow plants that are best for a variety of pollinating insects.”