Butterfly Gardening
This is my site Written by Geoff on July 1, 1998 – 8:47 am

In this issue of Yard Talk, we are going to discuss butterflies and butterfly gardening. Once you have decided to create a butterfly garden, the first step is to choose the butterflies you wish to attract. Why try attracting Southern Dogface Butterflies unless you live in the Southwest’s High Desert Country? To find out what butterflies are in your area, we suggest visiting public gardens, parks, country roadsides, and meadows. Keep track of not only what species are found but, their location, such as wet meadows, sunny fields, partial shade, or riverbanks. This will help you not only in deciding what species to try attracting but, where to locate your garden.

Most butterflies like sunny locations protected from the wind. A sunny area close to a wood line or hedgerow is ideal. A fence can be used also to provide an artificial windbreak.

Since butterflies feed on nectar, you will need to provide plants rich in this food source. Like hummingbirds, butterflies are attracted by bright colors such as red, orange, yellow, and purple. Flowers with short petals, plumes, or flat tops are particular favorites of the butterfly.

One factor often overlooked in butterfly gardening, is that while butterflies feed on nectar, their larvae eat only plant material. Butterfly’s larvae, in fact, eat very specific plants and female butterflies will only lay their eggs on these. No eggs mean no larva, that translates into no butterflies.

When providing plants for the larva, remember the purpose of these plants is to be eaten. This means no pesticides or insecticides. In fact, no insecticides should be used anywhere near a butterfly garden and this includes your lawn. You will be amazed how many more butterflies you will see just by eliminating insecticide usage.

Make sure when you plan your garden you include some creature comforts such as, a comfortable bench or chair. Most people find butterfly watching very relaxing and habit forming. You might even want to read a few chapters of Barbara Ellis’s excellent book “Attracting Birds and Butterflies” while enjoying nature.

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Modified: March 8, 2009 at 8:49 am UTC

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