|Gatekeeper by I, Anevrisme, Wikipedia|
|Peacock butterfly by Charlesjsharp, Wikipedia|
The UK-wide results for 2015 showed an increase over last year’s numbers for eleven of the target species, while the numbers for seven of the target species decreased. At the same time, the average number of total butterflies logged per count decreased from 15 to 13 this year, a drop that Butterfly Conservation attributes to the poor weather conditions during certain parts of the summer.
Returning to the present, there are still things that gardeners can do to help butterflies at this time of year. Most butterfly species in Britain spend the winter in egg, caterpillar, or chrysalis form, but some – including the Brimstone, Peacock, and Small Tortoiseshell – do hibernate as adult butterflies (though in recent winters, these and other species have been visible on the wing on very mild days). These butterflies are now stocking up on food in preparation for hibernation and so can really benefit from some late-blooming perennials. Butterfly Conservation recommends planting sedums, such as Iceplant or Butterfly Stonecrop (Sedum spectabile). Sedums come in a variety of colours and are a good nectar source not only for butterflies but for moths and bees as well.
And if, over the winter months, you happen to come upon a butterfly in your home that is active because of the central heating, it is best if you can move the butterfly to a better location for the duration of winter. Catch the butterfly and put it in a cardboard box. Hopefully, the butterfly will have a chance to calm down, and you can then try to relocate it onto the wall or ceiling of a shed, garage, porch, or other unheated space. Just make certain the butterfly can escape when spring really does arrive again!
Thank you Emily for this wonderful contribution! Thank you to all those who sent words and photos, there are more in the pipeline...