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Butterfly larvae and various beetles feed on their leaves; scores of insect species feast on their nectar and pollen; the stems of the plants are home to various over-wintering insect larvae; and, when the flowers are finished, birds like Goldfinches, Linnets and Siskin feed on their seeds. The plants I’m describing are the various species of the much maligned thistle family. Despite the derision of some farmers and the ‘neat-and-tidy’ brigade of gardeners, thistles are superb plants for wildlife, and I also think their flowers are rather beautiful.

During recent walks I’ve been capturing images of some of the creatures I’ve seen enjoying the bounty of these wild beauties: Comma, Large skipper, Marmalade hoverfly, Meadow brown, Red admiral, Red soldier beetle, Red-tailed bumblebee, Ringlet, Scorpion fly, Six-spot burnet, Small copper, Small skipper, and White-tailed bumblebee.