WE NEED to make next summer a ‘butterfly summer’ – and we need to start work right now.
As a reaction to the grim picture painted by this year’s Big Butterfly Count of dramatically falling numbers, experts at the National Botanic Garden of Wales are urging everyone to play their part to protect these important pollinators.
Dr Natasha de Vere, Head of Science and Education, said: “We must act now to make next summer a ‘butterfly summer’ and the good news is that there is lots we can all do in our own back yards to help.
“Buy the right shrubs and, if you are getting your seeds and bulbs now, make sure you focus on buying butterfly-friendly annuals and perennials.”
Natasha added: “It is, though, really all about the caterpillars.
“The adult butterfly stage of the lifecycle can often be short-lived – colourful, crucial, but very short. They spend the majority of their lives as caterpillars so providing them with plenty of ‘food plants’ is going to be crucial.”
She explained that the different species of butterfly require different ‘food plants’ for their larvae (caterpillars). It is important to recognise the beautiful butterflies that we all love to see in our gardens in summer are just one part of a very important cycle.
“One vital lesson we have learned working in our brand new tropical Butterfly House,” said Natasha, “is that we have to pay very close attention to all the stages if we are going to make it a success. It’s going really well with the exotic species with hundreds of butterflies on the wing at the same time.
“For our native species, we are continuing to plant butterfly-friendly plants in key areas of the Garden and trying to get used to gardening a little less tidily to encourage the different species, some which like long grass to lay their eggs and some like nettles, for instance.”
Another very important message is that we need to avoid using insecticides in our gardens, she added.
Top ten plants to ensure a butterfly summer:
- Buddleia (the butterfly bush)
- Verbena bonariensis
- Perennial Wallflower (Bowles Mauve)
- Marjoram (Oregano)
- Thistle, sorrel, dock and nettle
- Lady’s Smock
Top ten tips to make a butterfly-friendly garden:
- Grow lots of nectar-rich flowers between March and November.
- Choose different plants to attract a wider variety of species. Place the same types of plant together in blocks.
- Prolong flowering by deadheading flowers and watering well. Well-watered plants produce more nectar.
- Grow caterpillar food plants for butterflies and moths.
- Let an area of grass grow long.
- Allow a patch of ‘weeds’, such as dandelion and bird’s-foot-trefoil, to flourish.
- Leave bare patches of wall, fence or earth, or place large stones in sunny borders, so butterflies can bask.
- Create a shelter-belt of trees, plant a mixed, native hedge, which will protect butterflies and moths from the wind.
- Grow climbing plants up walls and fences, where butterflies and moths can shelter from the rain and frost.
- Make a log pile, where butterflies and moths can hibernate. Some moths breed in dead wood, too.
Time given to develop Parc Natur Penglais
VOLUNTEERS, including students, have given around 500 hours of their time to develop Parc Natur Penglais.
Along with support from Ceredigion County Council, the Group have built around 100 steps in 5 different places which has made the park a great place to walk, play and enjoy around a number of safe paths.
Councillor Mark Strong said: “Knowing that we have the support of the local community makes such a difference to peoples’ enthusiasm and having the grant from Aberystwyth Town Council, Cambrian News and Tesco made it possible. Volunteers can make a relatively small sum of money go long way.”
RSPCA aim for Christmas number one
MUSIC fans across Wales can help the RSPCA secure the Christmas number one slot, and provide vital support for animals in need across the country.
The animal welfare charity has thrown its hat into the ring to claim the festive chart accolade – as up-and-coming singer Lucy Ellie covers Simply Red’s hit song ’Stars’ in aid of the RSPCA.
‘Stars’ is the soundtrack to the charity’s ‘Kindness at Christmas’ video, which has already gone viral with over two million views online across a variety of platforms.
The tear-jerking video tells the story of Woody the Christmas toy pup who who is thrown out with the rubbish before being rescued and taken in for care by the RSPCA.
Proceeds from the single are being donated to the RSPCA to help in their work rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming thousands of animals every year.
RSPCA Cymru is again bracing itself for a busy festive period. In December 2016 and January 2017 alone, in Wales, 5,932 incidents were reported to the RSPCA – with 141 of these on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Lucy Ellie Cooper, who works at the charity, said: “This was a lovely opportunity for me to combine my two loves – animals and music.
“Outside of my job at the RSPCA I am a country music singer and songwriter, so when the chance came up to record such a fantastic and well-known song for the charity’s Christmas video, I jumped at it. I really hope people will take Woody’s story into their hearts and support the RSPCA this winter.”
You can help the RSPCA rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animals in desperate need of care, and support the charity’s ‘kindness’ campaign online
Charity games raise over £2000
NOT all heroes wear capes and Tesco Aberystwyth’s very own Community Champion, Natasha Worrall has proven this raising a staggering £2,096.27 for local and national charities.
Natasha, the brainchild behind the charity football events, came up with the idea first off by challenging Tesco’s neighbours, Marks and Spencer’s, to a football match, she quickly set her powers to work and contacted Aberystwyth Football club who were more than happy to help and allowed use of the pitch.
The Big Day arrived, there was a lot of tension and passion on the pitch that night, it was more than just about winning a match it was the status, the pride and most of all bringing people together to raise money for three great causes; Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation and Mind. Hundreds of supporters braved the cold October evening to support the players and Tesco stole the show with a 7-1 victory and an amazing £607 was raised.
Natasha now had a taste of success under her cape and wanted to really get this event of the ground and challenged supermarket rivals, Morrisons to a match! The response for Tesco vs Morrisons was just what Natasha wanted and a November date was set.
Tesco now had experience in their boots and both teams had everything to play for. Victory once again went to Tesco who pipped Morrisons at the post and clawed back to a 5-4 victory raising a further £648.15 for Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation and Clic Sargent.
In true football fashion Natasha wanted a hat trick but could Team Tesco achieve this? Last Sunday (Dec 3) seemed the perfect opportunity and the opponents who were up for the challenge came from Bronglais Hospital and their chosen charity Pila Pala, Llwyn yr Eos. What a match! And what great team to take victory, Hywel Dda 2 – Tesco – 0. A rematch could certainly be on the cards especially as they raised the biggest amount ever of £841.12.
Behind every success there is always great team and working with Natasha and the players a number of local heroes who helped, Ruth’s kitchen provided heroic meals for all the players for a £1 donation, Aberystwyth women’s Team loaned their footballs, the Referees, linesmen, stewards, security, first aiders and ball boys and girls who all donated their time free of charge.
Team Tesco are looking for more opponents to play and raise even more money for local charities, if you are interested please call into Tesco store and see Natasha.
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