Grass is a surprisingly important part of the life cycle of many butterflies and moths. A tightly cropped lawn provides very little for them and other wildlife. Even a small patch of longer grass can help butterflies and moths to thrive.
Here are some different things to try with the grass in your Wild Space:
Providing a variety of habitats is the best thing you can do for wildlife. Mix-and-match the grass lengths in your lawn.
Mow these areas every 4–6 weeks. Leave naturally occurring plants like dandelions, daisies and clovers to flower.
Cut the grass and rake off in the late summer or autumn.
Add some flowers if you like – Bird’s-foot trefoil, Knapweeds, Scabious and Ox-eye daisies can all grow amongst longer grass.
Leaving the grass untouched will help caterpillars, eggs and chrysalises survive through the winter.
Providing a variety of habitats is the best thing you can do for wildlife. Mix-and-match the grass lengths in your lawn by keeping some patches short and leaving others to grow longer.
Around 50 different types of caterpillars feed on the grasses in our lawns, including those of the Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Skipper and Speckled Wood butterflies. Some of the caterpillars eat grass virtually all year round, even through the winter.
Flowers and other plants amongst the grass will also provide nectar for adult butterflies and moths and feed a range of different caterpillars.
During hot, sunny weather, butterflies and moths can keep themselves cool and find essential moisture in a longer lawn.
Through the winter, caterpillars of the Small Skipper butterfly hibernate inside the stems of grass. Other species spend the winter amongst grass as eggs or chrysalises.
Tall lawns can also keep butterflies and moths safe from predators. Common Blue butterflies, for example, rest on tall stems of grass to keep themselves safe from mice.