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Can you advise me on the best location for a butterfly box and a ladybird box?

Sent in by Linda Marshall, Blyth

Providing homes for insects and other wildlife is a great way of increasing the biodiversity within your garden. It also helps with pollination of plants and encourages natural pest control.

Boxes for ladybirds and butterflies can also provide shelter for many other insects such as spiders, lacewings, beetles and mason bees.

Butterflies use cracks and crevices to hibernate in, or to shelter from bad weather. An ideal box will have several entry slits, allowing them to crawl inside and offer protection from wind and rain.

The best place to position such a box is on a wall or fence post that gets plenty of sun. However, it is best to avoid exposed aspects that may receive strong winds and rain, as these conditions are not favourable.

It would be ideal to locate the boxes close by and at the same height as suitable food sources such as nectar rich plants or even a homemade butterfly feeder. All you will need is a shallow dish that can be hung or attached to a garden cane, fit it with a brightly coloured surround, yellow or orange card can be effective, and fill it with a solution of sugar/water or slices of fruit.

Ladybirds often shelter in hollow stems and the ridges in the bark of trees. Ladybird boxes with lots of similar sized holes are a fantastic way of encouraging these garden favourites.

The main food source for ladybirds and their larvae are aphids. Before deciding on where to put the box, try to locate plants in you garden that attract aphids. Once you've found a suitable wall or fence, position the box close to plants that could do with the help of ladybirds.

As with butterfly shelters, position ladybird boxes in a sunny but sheltered spot close to and at the same level as the surrounding vegetation.

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