Butterfly gardening is not only a joy, it is one way that you can help restore declining butterfly populations. Simply adding a few new plants to your backyard may attract dozens of different butterflies, according to landscape designers at the University of Guelph.
Butterflies, like honeybees, are excellent pollinators and will
help increase your flower, fruit and vegetable production if you
provide them with a variety of flowers and shrubs. They are also beautiful to watch, and are sometimes called "flowers on the wing."
- Begin by seeding part of your yard with a wildflower or
butterfly seed mix, available through seed catalogues and garden
centers. Wildflowers are a good food source for butterflies and
- Choose simple flowers over double hybrids. They offer an
easy-to-reach nectar source.
- Provide a broad range of flower colors. Some butterflies like
oranges, reds and yellows while others are drawn toward white, purple or blue flowers.
- Arrange wildflowers and cultivated plants in clumps to make it
easier for butterflies to identify them as a source of nectar.
- If caterpillars are destroying favorite plants, transfer them
by hand to another food source. Avoid the use of pesticides,
which can kill butterflies and other beneficial insects.
- Some common caterpillar food sources are asters, borage,
chickweed, clover, crabgrass, hollyhocks, lupines, mallows,
marigold, milkweed or butterfly weed, nasturtium, parsley, pearly everlasting, ragweed, spicebush, thistle, violets and wisteria. Caterpillars also thrive on trees such as ash, birch, black locust, elm and oak.
- Annual nectar plants include ageratum, alyssum, candy tuft,
dill, cosmos, pinks, pin cushion flower, verbena and zinnia.
- Common perennial nectar plants include chives, onions, pearly
everlasting, chamomile, butterfly weed, milkweeds, daisies,
thistles, purple coneflower, sea holly, blanket flower, lavender, marjoram, mints, moss phlox, sage, stonecrops, goldenrod, dandelion and valerian.
Remember that butterflies are cold-blooded insects that bask in
the sun to warm their wings for flight and to orient themselves. They also need shelter from the wind, a source of water, and partly shady areas provided by trees and shrubs.
Copyright ? 2005 Jane Lake
About the Author:
Jane Lake is a professional writer whose articles have appeared
in Canadian Living, You, Modern Woman, and Highlights magazines. See more information on butterflies in her article, Butterfly Gardens: How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden and learn how to make your own butterfly food and butterfly feeders in Butterfly Food.