Wildlife Wednesday – Knapweed Magnetism

Over the years I have noticed that knapweed is as attractive as thistles to winged insects. It has similar shaped flowers and is a similar colour, but thank goodness it is a lot less prickly than thistles. So I’ve happily managed to grow patches of lesser knapweed throughout the wild area in the garden, which gives us little oases of purple at this time of year.

I’ve had more trouble establishing the more showy Greater Knapweed. I’ve no idea why. However, I have succeeded with common Knapweed and that plant is currently acting as a highly effective magnet for typical meadow butterflies and bees. Yesterday afternoon I took some photos and this is what I saw:

Several Skipper butterflies


Small Skipper, Thymelicus sylvestris (male)


Small skipper in that classic x-wing, half-open posture

A couple of Meadow brown butterflies


Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina

Three Marbled Whites


Marbled White, Melanargia galathea

A Leafcutter bee


A Leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis (I think) joined one of the Marbled White butterflies

Various Carder Bees


Common Carder bee, Bombus pascuorum

and some Hoverflies. This is one I’d not seen before:


Possibly a Long hoverfly, Sphaerophoria scripta ?

And if you are still in doubt about how attractive Knapweed really is then look at the next photo:


Knapweed growing in the South Avenue at Wimpole Estate, 28th June 2020

I counted 11 marbled whites, two skippers and a red-tailed bumble bee on the one plant, but they move about all the time! Did I miss any? 😉


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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22 Responses to Wildlife Wednesday – Knapweed Magnetism

  1. shoreacres says:

    Do you know the scientific name for the knapweed? I found a plant I’ve never seen before this past weekend, and it looks similar (although not identical) to this one. I suspect it might be in the same genus as your knapweed. At least it’s a palce to start searching for an ID.

  2. Tina says:

    A beautiful set of photos with happy, busy pollinators. I’m always surprised (not sure why!) when I see photos of insects from far away that, on first glance, look so much like what I have in my own garden. It’s a tribute to the vastness of Earth’s biology and also the links between species.

  3. The Knapweed always brings a butterfly party 🙂 Nice shots of these wonderful insects!

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Those marbled whites are fabulous. Clearly, Knapweed is a highly desirable plant!

  5. Cathy says:

    Wow, so many on one plant! Knapweed really is a magnet. We do have some but not as much near the house as last year. We have seen lots of Marbled whites the last few days too.

    • They were new to me a couple of years ago and now I can’t seem to go for a walk without seeing tons. Do you think their population is in a bit of explosion?

      • Cathy says:

        I think we have a lot every year, but I do notice some years one particular ‘weed’ or wild flower seems more prominent. We have loads of wild dianthus this year. 😃

  6. A butterfly magnet indeed. Sadly, most knapweeds here are non-native and aggressively invasive despite its beautiful flowers.

  7. Wow! Knapweed sure is a great magnet for butterflies. Your photographs are awesome.

  8. WOW! The Knapweed really does the job of attracting butterflies! I always like the Skippers with their double wings. They kind of remind me of a jet that can fly at supersonic speed. I have spent a lot of time following a butterfly just to get a shot. Sometimes I am successful but sometimes they will fly really high then land a long way off. You did a great job taking photos! Thanks for sharing about the Knapweed!

  9. M.B. Henry says:

    Such pretty pictures 🙂

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