Articles > Animals In The Garden
Butterfly Garden - 1/16/2015
by Jim & Dotti Becker
Seldom does the sight of a butterfly go unnoticed or unadmired. There are several things you can do to attract butterflies to your garden: provide lots of nectar bearing flowers, food for caterpillars, sunshine, sheltering trees/shrubs, and small mud puddles.
Butterflies are out in all but the coldest months and it is important to provide their flowers from early spring until late autumn. Not all flowers attract butterflies. See Chart #1 for a year-round list of good butterfly flowers. These are all available in this catalog.
If you provide a steady succession of flowers, the lingering butterflies may even mate in your garden. Each species lays its eggs on or near a certain kind of plant and its caterpillars are adapted to eat only (with a few exceptions) this particular plant.
Identify the butterflies in your garden with a good field guide. In this same book look up what plants their caterpillars eat. If practical, add some to your garden to help establish future butterfly populations. See Chart #2 for a list of the caterpillar plants available in this catalog.
You can’t have butterflies without caterpillars, and caterpillars eat plants! Plant a little extra for them and learn to live with their munching. Caterpillar watching can also be a lot of fun, especially for children.
Many butterflies, such as swallowtails, are attracted to small mud puddles from which they extract needed salts for their diets. If you mulch heavily or use drip irrigation, maintain a small mud puddle.
Remember, too, that many pesticides will kill not only the target insects, but others, including butterflies and caterpillars. Always use the least toxic pesticide necessary to control an insect infestation and use it in as small an area as possible.
The extent to which backyard gardening helps butterfly populations is uncertain. Certainly, they may seem overwhelmed by the largescale effects of farming, logging, urban development, and roadside pesticides and herbicides. Still, every bit helps, and you will gain great pleasure from the effort.
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