Butterflies are some of the most exciting and beautiful visitors to the garden! They add an element of surprise and color that can’t found with other living things. Children love them, and even pets will sometimes interact with them. How can we attract more of these friendly insects to our yards and patios?
Butterflies Need Three Things in a Habitat to Survive:
Adult butterflies are attracted by large, open blossomed flowers in bright colors. They will also visit some deep blossomed flowers if the flower has a fairly wide opening so that the butterflies can access the nectar. Favorite colors include purple, yellow, pink, and white.
The larval stage (caterpillar) often eats very different food from the adult butterfly. Caterpillars can be destructive, but if you want adult butterflies in your garden, you will need to provide food for the caterpillars to eat. In many cases, the caterpillars eat plants that are generally considered weeds, so encouraging them may actually cut down on your garden work!
Like all living things, butterflies need water to survive. They can drink from a shallow birdbath or other dish placed in a sunny spot. They will also drink from puddles and moist places in your yard.
Butterflies are fragile and will need a place to take refuge in storms. Provide them with hanging baskets on a porch or leafy plants that they can perch on to protect themselves from high winds.
Choosing Plants for a Butterfly Garden
A butterfly garden should be placed in a sunny part of your yard or patio. It should contain a variety of plants that will attract butterflies. I have found that it is often advisable to let a butterfly garden grow somewhat wild in looks so that the weeds on which the caterpillars feed don’t look out of place among more commonly cultivated plants provided for the adult butterflies. Do not use insecticides on the plants in your butterfly garden and encourage your neighbors to reduce or eliminate their use of pesticides in order to encourage butterflies to co-exist with you.
Here Is a List of Common Foods for Butterflies:
Butterfly bush (Buddleia Davidii)
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Here Is a List of Common Foods for Butterfly Caterpillars:
Monarch butterfly – Common milkweed, swamp milkweed
Zebra swallowtail – Common pawpaw
Spicebush swallowtail – Spicebush
Pipevine swallowtail – Dutchman’s pipevine
Question mark butterfly – American elm
Alfalfa & common sulfur butterflies – Red and white clover
Red admiral – false and stinging nettle
Painted lady butterflies – Thistles, burdock, sunflowers, hollyhock, early everlasting
Red-spotted purple butterfly – Wild cherry, apple, hawthorn
Viceroy – Willows, apple
Eastern tiger swallowtail – Wild cherry, tulip tree
Great spangle fritillary – Violets
Black swallowtail – Apiaceae family (carrot, parsley, Queen Anne’s lace, fennel)