Vivara Butterfly House Review and Giveaway. #BigButterflyCount #ButterflyConservation

*Gifted item.

Are you taking part in the Big Butterfly Count this year? I’m just about to settle down with a cup of tea and count the butterflies in my garden.

Wildlife specialists, Vivara, are sponsoring the count this year and sent me this butterfly house to promote the citizen science project.

I’ve placed the house in a sunny sheltered spot in the cut flower and vegetable garden. I’ve put some twigs inside the house and hopefully butterflies will use it to shelter from bad weather. If I’m lucky, some might use it to overwinter in my garden. Last year we had peacock butterflies hibernating in the hen house and the potting shed. Adults overwinter in dark places such as sheds, bird boxes and holes in trees, and left undisturbed, they will be dormant until spring. As soon as the weather starts to warm up, they emerge and look for nectar-rich plants to feed on.

The butterfly house has a hook on the back and a screw and rawl plug for hanging it up.

I always look for the FSC mark on any wooden product which shows it’s been made from materials sourced from well managed forests. The butterfly house is a sturdy product which should last for years.

Vivara have one butterfly house to give away. Leave a comment at the end of this piece and a winner will be randomly selected.

A Comma butterfly on an echinacea plant in my garden.

Butterflies need all the help they can get. Numbers are falling drastically. The Butterfly Conservation charity which runs the Big Butterfly Count says last year a record 145,000 counts were submitted, but worryingly 2020 saw the lowest average numbers of butterflies logged since the event began 12 years ago.

Cold, wet spring weather is thought to be a factor. Here in Leicestershire we had a cold, dry April, followed by the wettest May for 50 years. It rained every day, and right at the end May, we had a week of frost with temperatures dipping to -4C. This week we’ve had flash floods with 15mm of rain in one day, and hail stones the size of marbles.

Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count helps scientists assess the health of our environment, and helps us understand how the climate is affecting butterflies.

To take part, spend 15 minutes counting the maximum number of each species you can see at a single time. You can do this in a garden, school grounds, or public park. Go on to the Butterfly Conservation website and record your findings, or download the i- record App. There’s a downloadable wall chart showing all the different butterflies which helps identify them.

Here’s some butterflies I spotted in my garden:

A Holly Blue butterfly on calendula
Cabbage White butterfly on echeveria flowers in the greenhouse
Red Admiral on verbena bonariensis
Tortoiseshell on the salad crop

Five Ways You Can Help Butterflies:

1. Join Butterfly Conservation. It’s half price until 8th August. There’s magazines and leaflets on gardening for butterflies. Also, invitations to local guided walks, and conservation volunteering days.

2. Run an event on behalf of Butterfly Conservation. Every little helps. You could host a coffee morning, a plant sale, a sponsored activity.

3. Volunteer for Butterfly Conservation. There’s office and outdoor work available.

4. Grow something for butterflies. They need nectar-rich plants for food, but also trees, shrubs and plants for caterpillars.

5. Take part in the Big Butterfly Count which runs until August 8th. It’s the biggest survey of butterflies in the world and provides a valuable insight into the health of our UK butterfly species.

Plants I grow to attract butterflies:

Buddleja is the one everyone knows about. Literally called the ‘butterfly bush.’ There’s some new miniature varieties for growing in small spaces and in containers. Look out for the Buzz series in lavender, magenta and white.

Lavender. Hidcote is my favourite as it is compact and doesn’t sprawl. Of all the lavenders, this one seems to cope with wet winters better than most. It needs well-drained soil and a sunny site.

Perennial wallflower- Bowles Mauve. Rarely out of flower all spring and summer. It’s a good idea to have a variety of plants from early spring through to autumn so there’s always something in flower for butterflies.

Marjoram. I discovered this when I let some marjoram or oregano plants escape from a pot. They grew to 60cm and scrambled through the bottom of a sunny hedge, providing pink/purple flowers all summer.

I also grow a selection of plants for caterpillars. Fruit trees, alder buckthorn, holly, blackthorn, oak, broom, lady’s smock or Cardamine pratensis, nettles, bird’s foot trefoil, all important caterpillar food.

Thank you for reading my blog. And thank you for all your kind comments on here and via other social media, letting me know how much my posts have cheered you up during the past two very difficult years. It’s much appreciated. Good luck in the prize draw! I’ll announce a winner on Sunday evening, 1st August, 2021.

Links: https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies

Vivara: https://www.vivara.co.uk/wildlife/bees-insects

11 thoughts on “Vivara Butterfly House Review and Giveaway. #BigButterflyCount #ButterflyConservation

  1. Karen, thank you very much for this interesting and informative blog about butterflies and their world: the best plants to feed on adults and caterpillars, how to help butterflies and where butterflies hibernate and where to place butterfly houses. Participating in the Big Butterfly Count is a great help to do the Butterfly Census. Your Butterfly House is fabulous: FSC and very well done. Hopefully the butterflies will live in it and hibernate in it. How fantastic that last year peacock butterflies hibernated in your hen house and in your shed, I love it !!! Butterflies are disappearing all over the world, it’s a shame: climate change affects them a lot. I’m so sorry for the flooding you’ve had – hail is deadly to butterflies. The butterflies you have seen while counting the butterflies in your garden are divine, and the photos are magnificent. Karen, thank you for such wonderful photos, they have made me very happy even though my lower back and back hurt a lot. Karen health, strength and encouragement for your whole family, Mr B and for you. Much love to everyone and to the Gang. Take good care of each other. Have a great week and may your nephew John be very happy at the Olympics. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx 😘🦋🐛🌺💚

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  2. What a beautiful assortment of butterflies your garden has attracted. I never heard of the peacock butterfly so looked it up. Absolutely stunning. I don’t believe we have them here in the States though. Too bad, as they are quite outstanding!

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  3. What a great blog Karen. Yes we are taking part in the butterfly count. We have planted lots more plants this year especially buddlejas to encourage lots more butterflies to the garden here. And it’s working! We have lots of Red Admirals, Peacocks and Tortoiseshells and yesterday I saw a Painted Lady which we are thrilled about. We all need to do more to help our butterflies.

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    • Thank you Kate. How wonderful! When the children were little we bought a kit to grow Painted Lady butterflies. Releasing them was such a wonderful moment. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for reading and for your kind comments. Much appreciated. Karen x

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    • Hello Kate, you’ve won the little butterfly house. Your name came up in the random name generator. I’ll get Vivara to send it direct to you. All the best, and thanks for reading my blog and leaving a comment. Have a great gardening week. Karen

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  4. I have noticed a worrying absence of butterflies this year. Like you, I grow pollinator friendly plants, including 5 different Buddleja, but apart from a couple of Cabbage White butterflies, there has been no sign of any. I’m increasing the number of caterpillar friendly plants, but this has made no difference. It is extremely worrying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading my blog. It is very worrying. We seem to be set in a pattern of cold wet spring and extremes of weather in summer. We don’t seem to get the nice soft gentle rain in summer, but often a deluge. Currently watching all the trees being bashed about by storm Evert. The butterflies don’t stand a chance at the moment. I’m hoping they are taking shelter somewhere warm and dry. Also reading about the devastating wildfires in Turkey due to the heatwave 40C temperatures. And snow in Brazil! Thanks again. Karen

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