Magpie (Robert Thompson)

Gardening

Breadcrumbs

Gardens are important places for moths, especially as intensive agriculture is limiting the number of suitable habitats in the countryside. There are likely to be over a hundred species in just an ordinary urban back garden! So the way you manage your garden can really help moth conservation.

Brimstone Moth (Mark Parsons)There are many ways that you can make your garden more suitable for moths and encourage beautiful garden species like the Brimstone Moth and Light Emerald. Firstly, remember that moths (and other wildlife) cannot live on bare surfaces like concrete, decking or gravel. So limiting the amount of hard landscaping and increasing the area given to plants will immediately make your garden more moth-friendly.

Light Emerald (Mark Parsons)One of the easiest ways to make your garden better for moths is simply to stop working so hard! Moths and their caterpillars need fallen leaves, old stems and other plant debris to help them hide from predators, and especially to provide suitable places to spend the winter. It's very helpful to delay cutting back old plants until the spring, rather than doing it in the autumn, and just generally be less tidy. If you want your garden to look tidy in the summer, try leaving some old plant material behind the back of borders or in other places out of sight. Many moth caterpillars feed on the native plants we consider weeds, so tolerating some weeds and long grass in your garden can also be very beneficial to moths.

Pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to moths or the plants on which their caterpillars feed. Organic gardening is very beneficial for moths and all other wildlife, but if you can't go completely organic just cutting down on the use of chemicals as much as possible will be helpful. This can also benefit your garden by increasing the 'good' insects that help to control pests.

Having a wide variety of plants in the garden will also make it suitable for a wider range of moth species. Try to have a mixture of large and small flowering plants plus a few shrubs, and a small tree if you have room. Your choice of plant species can also make a big difference. Flowers with plenty of nectar will provide a good source of food for adult moths, while certain plants can provide the necessary food for caterpillars. Use the gardening links on the left for more information on the best plants to grow for nectar and to feed caterpillars.