Fourteen red admirals on a buddleia: sign of a good butterfly summer?

Fourteen red admirals on a buddleia: sign of a good butterfly summer?

The extravagantly scented bush is a rich source of late-summer nectar, and this year it has plenty of visitors

The number of butterflies on a buddleia bush is our best informal measurement of a butterfly summer.

Buddleias may be non-native – and one of the “weeds” disparaged by the Daily Mail this month for disfiguring Brighton – but the extravagantly scented purple tubes are a rich source of late-summer nectar when other blooms are relatively scarce. Colourful garden nymphalids – small tortoiseshells, peacocks, red admirals, commas – must fuel up because they hibernate as adult butterflies; they’re joined by the painted lady, mustering the energy to migrate to sunnier climes.

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