Butterflies are well known pollinators, fluttering from flower to flower on delicate wings during the warm summer months. Moths on the other hand are largely forgotten and not often thought of as critical pollinators. Instead many see moths as flame obsessed nighttime pests! Yet these beautiful creatures are vital pollinators which have been in decline for many years (Rothamsted Insect Survey shows that two thirds of British Moth species have declined since 1960), but with a little careful garden planning we can all create havens for bees, butterflies and moths.
Moths often have a powerful sense of smell and are mainly attracted to night scented flowers, which release their perfume during the twilight hours (such as Lonicera (Honeysuckle), Verbena and Oenothera (Evening Primrose)). Along with fragrance moths are attracted to white/pale flowers often with long tubular flowers, which are perfect for their long slender tongues to extract nectar from.
Adding nectar rich flowers to your garden is great for adult moths, but young caterpillars require a more leafy diet which can range from delicious oak leaves to dandelions. If you have space in your garden adding an oak, willow or birch tree can provide a veritable buffet for caterpillars, along with hedges made from native species such as beech, hawthorn, barberry or hazel. Such hedges are best left to be semi wild with minimal trimming. Along side delicious tree & shrub leaves, many caterpillars eat the leaves and roots of so called “weeds”. Dock, dandelion, brambles and plantain can all provide a wonderful buffet for young caterpillars on their dangerous journey to metamorphose into wonderful moths.
Adding night scented flowers along with white/pale flowers to your garden is not only good for moths, its also great for you. Such beautiful pale flowers can reflect the moons delicate light, turning your garden into a tranquil, beautiful space from which to watch the nighttime come alive. Ponds add another dimension to your moon garden attracting all manner of insects which in turn will attract bats (more beautiful creatures which need our help to survive).
Night time nectar for moths
- Oenothera (evening primroses)
- Nicotiana (tobacco plant)
- Summer-flowering honeysuckles & jasmines
- Erica cinerea
- Silene latifolia
- Hesperis matronalis (Sweet rocket)
Day time nectar for moths
- Limonium (Sea lavender)
- Centranthus rubra