no Swallowtails this year - have I done anything wrong?

Discussion in 'Wildlife Corner' started by Sian in Belgium, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. Sian in Belgium

    Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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    For a few years we had yellow swallowtails in our garden. The first year (2013), there were at least two flying around the bronze fennel, lots of activity, and subsequent caterpillars (so beautiful!)
    caterpillar 005.JPG

    I saw them the next year, and then the following year (2015), I only saw one butterfly, laying eggs on the fennel in the August.
    swallowrail 007.JPG

    I have seen nothing this year, although there are lots of butterflies around. Have I done something wrong? We still have the bronze fennel, and I've even let a second seedling (from the hundreds!) grow into a big healthy plant, as I understand it is an acceptable food for the caterpillars. Should I be providing somewhere special for them to pupate?

    On a more general theme, similar to @TheMadHedger's post, how do I encourage more butterflies? we have two butterfly bushes (can never spell the proper name!), clover in flower most of the summer, as well as lots of wild flowers in the lawn. I don't use any pesticides, handweeding stuff like rape and dandelions out - no mean feat on this scale...! Woodpiles, stick-piles, fruit trees, simple single flowers, lavenders all abound. But could I do more?

    I would love to be able to call a wildlife expert in to advise me, but don't know where to start in Belgium. The neighbours, though friendly, see any specialist advisors as unwelcome, as it prevents most changes to the properties, etc, even extensions to patios. We are designated a Nature Area (whatever that means!) because of the midwife toads, I don't think Those That Be know that we also have great-crested newts, and slow-worms .... But in my dream world, I would be able to speak to a wildlife expert who could tell me what is already doing well, help me protect what we have here, and make it even more wildlife-friendly.
     
  2. Kandy

    Kandy Will be glad to see the sun again soon.....

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    Hi @Sian in Belgium I do so love your Swallowtails and even their beautiful caterpillars although I have never seen either so will admire yours:love30:

    A blog of a lady called Penny who lives in Norfolk and has a birding blog of bird sightings has put up a link to say that some of the Swallow Tail butterfly eggs and the plants of the Milk Parsley that they feed on have been dug up and stolen so at this site in Hickling Broad there will be no butterflies this year.

    Perhaps if you could buy some of these Milk Parsley plants you might have better luck in future with them.

    I wonder if it is the climate that is affecting them:scratch:
     
  3. Sian in Belgium

    Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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    Yes, I heard this on the radio this morning, which is what got me to thinking about our swallowtails...

    The European swallowtail is less selective than the UK ?sub-species, and will accept a number of food plants, including fennel, so I don't think I need to seed the local marsh with milk parsley....

    2016 was quite a miserable summer, compared to previous years, and also to this year.... so far 2017 has been mainly hot and dry!
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
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