Trees and shrubs are fantastic for butterflies and moths. Caterpillars eat the leaves, blossom and catkins provide nectar for adults, and all different stages of the life cycle (eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and adults) find shelter amongst the branches or on the stem. Try one of these trees or shrubs in your Wild Space.
As many as 130 different types of caterpillar feed on Willow, including the stunning Puss Moth. The catkins (flowers) are rich in nectar too, providing food early in the year when other flowers are scarce.
There are many different Willows available, including ornamental and dwarf varieties that can be grown in a pot. They prefer damp but well-drained soil, and full sun.
Apple trees are eaten by more than 50 types of caterpillar, and their beautiful blossoms (which appear in April or May) are an important nectar source for butterflies such as the Small Tortoiseshell.
Easy to grow and available in many varieties, apple trees like sunny, sheltered sites with deep soil.
The caterpillars of a whopping 150 different moths and butterflies feed on birch trees, including those of the Hebrew Character moth.
There are many different types of birch available, but our native ones, Silver Birch (Betula pendula) and Downy Birch (Betula pubescans) support the most wildlife. Fast growing and adaptable, birch thrives in most soils and can even survive waterlogging.
This native shrub feeds 74 different types of caterpillar, and its flowers, which appear in May, are a good source of nectar for butterflies such as the Small Copper. Hawthorn makes a great hedging plant, and dense hedgerows can shelter adult butterflies and moths through the cooler months.
Easy to grow, hawthorn grows in a range of soils and prefers full sun or partial shade.
Around 20 different caterpillars eat the leaves of Privet, including those of the Magpie moth, but its greatest value is as a source of nectar. White flowers appear in June and July and are popular with butterflies, moths and a host of other pollinators.
Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) is native to the UK, and Garden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) originates from Japan. Privet is most familiar as a hedge plant and grows best in full sun, in well-drained soil.