If you love wildlife then it can be fascinating to look out for creatures which are awake during the hours of darkness, even if you might only catch a glimpse of them on rare occasions. Indeed, most animals make their rounds during the night time, so putting some effort into supporting them can make a big difference.

Moths are well known denizens of the dark, but there are also butterflies which prefer to live a nocturnal life rather than taking risks by exposing themselves in the sunlight hours. Here are some ideas as to how you can optimise your garden to accommodate these insects.

Invest In Climbing Plants

There are a couple of key moth-friendly plant varieties which climb structures rather than having rigid stems.

First of these is common ivy, otherwise known as hedera helix. Ivy can be found all over the UK and is native to these isles, meaning that you can happily plant it, safe in the knowledge that you will not be upsetting the balance of the ecosystem by doing so.

Ivy appreciates soil that offers plenty of drainage, in addition to a good amount of moisture to fuel its growth. It also prefers to have a decent balance of sun and shade, although it will not fare especially well if it is permanently shielded from direct sunlight, so take this into account as you choose where to position it.

The moths which will take up residence in ivy include the red-green carpet, or chloroclysta siterata, the pin-barred sallow, or xanthia togata, and the angel shades, or phlogophora meticulosa. Each of these is absolutely delightful to observe in its own right and you can seek them out during September and October by heading over to your ivy and scouring the surface of its leaves with a torch.

Honeysuckle, scientifically titled lonicera periclymenum, also proves to be a big hit with the moth community. It has an attractive scent and produces plenty of nectar, so these creatures will cluster around it to take their fill during the night.

With this plant, you may need to intervene with your own support infrastructure if you are hoping to run it up the surface of a wall or a fence. If you want to leave it to its own climbing devices, a tree will prove to be a suitable companion.

Caterpillar precursors to the Earl Grey moth will gladly make a home in a honeysuckle plant, so it is not adult moths which will appreciate it.

Set Up Shrubs

If you have room for a few shrubs on your property, they will not only be an excellent aesthetic addition but will also help insect life of all kinds to survive and thrive. Importantly, with healthy insect populations, you will be supporting other animals higher up the food chain, including birds and bats.

Buddleia bushes are great for butterflies and moths alike, with their gorgeous blooms representing an irresistible target for nectar-hungry creatures. If you want to encourage growth, cut back the plant in the autumn and it will be revived anew once spring returns. Be sure to situate this shrub in a spot where it will get plenty of sunlight, as shady areas will not allow it to flourish and it may become a wasted investment.

An evergreen shrub might be more suited to your particular space, in which case a Hebe may catch your eye. They will remain green and lustrous whatever the season, but it is during the tail end of summer when they come into their own from the perspective of nocturnal insects. Pale coloured flowers will bloom across the shrub and this will allow moths and butterflies to drink deep day or night.

With a Hebe, sunny conditions are also essential. It is not the hardiest of shrubs, so make sure it is relatively sheltered from harsh winds or it may end up looking a little the worse for wear.

Plump For Perennials

These plants will need a little more maintenance work to keep them in check and ensure that they are healthy, but notwithstanding this, they will be a magnet for winged wonders that swoop around your garden after dark or during the day.

Red and while valerian are flowering plants which produce plenty of nectar over the course of the summer, provided that they have access to ample sunlight and are not placed in soil which is overly waterlogged. Feel free to deadhead these at a fairly brisk pace, since they will spring back up in no time. Once autumn arrives, cut the stem off at ground level and you will encourage the plant to return again as the spring arrives the following year.

The unfortunately named Bladder Campion, with the Latinate identifier of silene vulgaris, serves as another potential perennial plant option for lovers of moths and butterflies. Part of the reason that it appeals to nocturnal insects is that its flowers have evolved to give off their scent once the sun has set, sending out olfactory signals to draw in any pollinators that might be in the area. You can pick up seeds for this plant from most garden centres, so you can start the growing process from scratch if you wish.

Buy Some Biennials

For a moth and butterfly support scheme which you can plan out in expectation of seeing results further down the line, planting certain biennials is a good bet.

Take the delightful evening primrose, for example. It can soar to almost a meter and a half in height and has flowers which only bloom later in the day, making them ideally suited to the habits of nocturnal butterflies and moths. If you plant these as seeds, they will begin their growth at the start of summer and quickly become a welcome presence in your garden.

Sweet rocket is another sky-scraping biennial that appears in May and is able to keep seeding itself without any intervention, which means that it should come back again and again once planted. This will be able to cope with shadier conditions, although having access to a little sun will give it a better chance of developing fully and feeding the insects you want to support.

Acquire Annuals

A number of annual plants are appealing to nectar-hungry nocturnal insects. Night-scented stock, also called matthiola longipetala, has flowers that open in the evening and play host to famished moths and butterflies that are looking for a meal to keep their energy levels up. This can be planted in pots, or in soil that has the sun shining on it for much of the day.

Another annual option is sweet alyssum, or lobularia maritima. It doesn't grow into a tall, slender-stemmed plant in the same fashion as some of its counterparts, but instead clusters on the ground and develops purple and white blooms which appeal to lots of different insects over time.

Ultimately, it is important to ensure that your garden offers plenty of plant and flower variety, since various creatures will have very different needs and you should try to be as broad as possible in your choice of plants. This will ensure that you benefit the widest range of wildlife throughout the seasons every year.