As you make plans for improvements to your garden this year, consider attracting butterflies. Not only do butterflies provide aesthetic appeal, they also are great plant pollinators and provide food for other animals in the food chain. Butterflies just need a little encouragement from you to inhabit your garden. If you provide for their needs - food, water, and warmth - they are sure to grace you with their presence.
There are over 700 species of butterflies in North America. Some have specific feeding needs such as milkweed for Monarchs, willow and poplar leaves for Viceroy, and carrots, dill, or parsley for the Black Swallowtail. What all butterflies do have in common is a need for a habitat that fosters all their life stages: a place to lay eggs, food for the larva (caterpillars), a place to form a chrysalis, and nectar sources for adults.
When planting butterfly-specific plants, arrange them in masses instead of one single plant. Make sure they receive a lot of sun and are close to a natural windbreak, such as a tree or bush. Include some large, light-colored stones near the plants to provide a basking area as they need to warm their wings for flight. A wet sandy or muddy area will give them a drink and some butterflies are especially fond of rotting fruit. Be sure NEVER to use pesticides/insecticides on these plants.
Food for Caterpillars
Food for Butterflies
|black-eyed susan||purple coneflower||yarrow|
|bee balm||lilac||red clover|
For more general information on butterflies or specific information for your area, consult the North American Butterfly Association, www.naba.org, and the Butterfly Website, www.butterflywebsite.com.