Leave stems and flowerheads uncut over winter

Here's how to do it

For a simple way to make a big difference to the butterflies and moths in your wild space – don’t be too tidy.

We don’t see many butterflies and moths in the winter, and that’s because only 2% of British species spend the winter in their adult, winged form.

Most of the butterflies and moths in your Wild Space will survive as eggs, caterpillars or chrysalises throughout the colder months. Some take shelter inside the stems or seedheads of dead plants; others may be attached to the stems or rolled up in leaves. In milder weather, some caterpillars will even be active and feeding on the plants.

One of the easiest things you can do to help a wide range of butterflies and moths is to let your plants die off naturally in the autumn and leave them where they are until the following spring.

By cutting the dead stems and seedheads back, you risk sending these eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises to perish in the compost bin and you won’t have nearly so many butterflies and moths in your space next year.

When you do finally cut them back, leave the stems and flowerheads in a quiet spot to give any overwintering creatures the best chance of survival.

Species that will benefit from this idea

Burnished Brass

Diachrysia chrysitis

Magpie Moth

Abraxas grossulariata

Merveille du Jour

Dichonia aprilina

Orange Tip

Anthocharis cardamines

Small White

Pieris rapae