As we’re all being encouraged to spend more time in our homes and feeling the worry and anxiety of 24/7 news coverage of the global pandemic, Butterfly Conservation is suggesting a way to look after your mental health by spending time in your garden or outdoor spaces.
For those who are able to get outside, and who now perhaps have more opportunity to do so than normal, gardens across the UK are waking up to spring and there are plenty of species of butterfly to look out for.
Richard Fox, Associate Director (Recording & Research) at Butterfly Conservation suggests a few top butterfly species to spot: ‘There are a surprising number of species of butterfly which are coming out of hibernation ready for spring. In just the last few days we have had recorded sightings of Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral all getting active as the weather is warming.
‘The three common White butterflies (large, small, and green-veined) have also all been sighted already this year in the UK and before long it will be possible to see Orange Tips and Speckled Wood, both of which are early flying butterflies. We’ve not had any recorded sightings yet, but we’d love to receive one!
‘The Holly Blue is the only blue butterfly that people are likely to see in their gardens in suburban or urban areas, which should be flying before too long. There are moths flying at night too, though they are a little harder to see in large numbers before the weather starts really warming up.’
Butterfly Conservation Chief Executive Julie Williams said: ‘While it’s crucial that we all stay safe and take steps to keep ourselves and others physically well at the moment, it’s also important that we take care of our mental health too.
‘Anxiety, isolation and feeling stuck at home can have detrimental effects for our mental health and we’re encouraging anyone who can access an outdoor space to take a break in nature, while respecting the guidance on social distancing.
‘There’s so much life waking up for Spring in our gardens and outdoor spaces and many of us might have a bit more opportunity to explore them than usual. It’s a proven fact that spending time in nature can have beneficial effects on your mental health.
‘Take some mindful time to watch for our first Spring butterflies, record what you see and share it online. You could also plant some wildflower seeds now, ready for our summer pollinators.’
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, the mental health charity, said: ‘We know being told to stay indoors and avoid others can be a very daunting prospect. There are a variety of things you can do to maintain well-being in these circumstances, one of which is engaging with nature and green space.
‘For many of us, we don’t have access to our own green space in the form of a garden, so in this time of social distancing, we welcome Butterfly Conservation’s suggestion of taking time to watch for the first Spring butterflies. Even something as simple as going to a local public park or sitting by a window to watch butterflies can be beneficial to our mental health.”
If you’d like to take a break in nature, you can identify the butterflies in your garden on the Butterfly Conservation website.
We’d also love you to share your sightings on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also contribute your sightings online to the Garden Butterfly Survey scheme which is run by the Butterfly Conservation.