How you can help butterflies

Gatekeeper butterflies - Jon Dunkelman

When wildlife conservation student Ellen approached us asking for our help with a campaign about protecting butterflies with our everyday actions, we were inspired. She kindly wrote this blog for us, to share some of the best ways you can help butterflies on your patch, and why we need to protect these beautiful insects.

I'm Ellen, a third-year student at Bristol's University of the West of England (UWE) studying Integrated Wildlife Conservation. I also spent a great three months over summer in 2019 working for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, working on many reserves in and around Winchester. Since then, I've moved to Dorset, and Dorset Wildlife Trust has been kind enough to give me space to tell you about my project, which focuses on butterfly conservation, particularly promoting easy things that almost any householder can do on their patio, garden, balcony or window box.

Butterflies are clearly attractive, but they also tell us so much about other wildlife because if butterflies do well in a spot, you can be confident that there is a whole host of other great wildlife that is also thriving in the same habitat. I have been posting on social media with the aim of directly reaching householders; not only those who are already up for this, but also those who might not have known where to go for information. All it needs is for some extra people to take butterfly friendly actions, who then mention the idea to a few more, and before you know it, there could be a large number of people doing great stuff for local wildlife.

This also addressed a key thing I want to achieve - helping people understand that they can make a difference. Many of us watch wildlife TV programs, news, and witness what we're doing to our planet. Crucially, I often hear people say that they feel completely powerless to fix it as an individual. So, an individual cannot fix everything, but we can fix some small things. If a lot of people fix those small things, all together, we've fixed a pretty big thing. Imagine if lots of gardens across the country planted butterfly-friendly species - we'd no longer be talking about butterfly corridors. Instead, we would have butterfly regions. Now that is a big difference.

I have focused on a part of west Dorset so far, simply because that is where I live. If we can do it here, people can do it almost anywhere. You may have seen that Dorset Council has recently been publicising its 'Love your verge' campaign, which is a fabulous thing. This adds another important element to the areas supporting diverse wildlife, helping not only wildlife diversity, but also the ability of species to move and migrate.

So... what am I hoping will happen? Firstly, I clearly want to spread the word about butterfly-friendly gardening, but secondly I'd also love to hear from you about what you're doing which will help me take my project forward! You can contact me via email at: ellen.bugler274@gmail.com or via Twitter at @EllenBugler.