Garden varieties: How attractive are recommended garden plants to butterflies?

  • Published source details Shackleton K. & Ratnieks F.L.W. (2016) Garden varieties: How attractive are recommended garden plants to butterflies?. Journal of Insect Conservation, 20, 141-148.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Practise ‘wildlife gardening’

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Practise ‘wildlife gardening’

    A site comparison study in 2013 in a rural garden in East Sussex, UK (Shackleton & Ratnieks 2016) found that of 11 planted flower varieties, buddleia Buddleia davidii and marjoram Origanum vulgare were visited most by butterflies and day-flying moths, and they attracted different groups of species. Marjoram received the most visits by butterflies (50% of all visits), followed by buddleia (22% of all visits), compared to 0–12% visits for the other nine flower varieties. Meadow brown Maniola jurtina (213 out of 287 visits) and gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus (908/961 visits) were most attracted to marjoram, and peacock Inachis io (312/328 visits), painted lady Vanessa cardui (123/143 visits) and red admiral Vanessa atalanta (9/10 visits) were most attracted to buddleia. However, hemp agrimony Eupatorium cannibinum attracted the highest diversity of butterfly species (data presented as model results). See paper for more details. Eleven varieties of ornamental flowers were grown in 1–5 discrete patches (total: 1–15 m2) around a garden. From 8–13th August 2013, butterflies and day-flying moths feeding on each patch were counted 105 times (three times/hour at 20-minute intervals) in good weather.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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