You give me butterflies

“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.”Henrik Tikkanen

It’s an insect that some people say brings good luck if it lands on you, but the butterfly is more than just a lucky charm. Butterflies are an important part of every ecosystem, but because of  increased clearing of land for development, their habitats are dwindling. In fact, Sir David Attenborough, the long-time face and voice of several British natural history programs, said Britain will face an “environmental catastrophe” unless immediate action is taken to save the country’s butterflies from extinction. Certainly, it’s not hard to imagine the same outcome for the US.

People who are interested in helping to preserve butterfly populations or who are simply fascinated by their beauty can bring butterflies to their own backyard by creating an eco-friendly butterfly garden. Attracting butterflies doesn’t have to be a bank-breaker or huge time commitment; all it takes is the right plants, a good environment and a little patience.

Photo courtesy uky.edu

Photo courtesy uky.edu

Developing your garden can be broken down into three basic steps:

1.) Location

Choose a location in your backyard that receives at least five to six hours of sunlight daily. Make sure the spot doesn’t get too windy, as butterflies don’t like to struggle to feed in a strong breeze. A good spot may be near a tree line or wall of shrubbery that would block the majority of the wind.

2.) Research

Once you’ve chosen a good location for your butterfly garden you need to research two things — first, which butterflies are in your area, and second, which plants and flowers will grow best in your area and attract those butterflies. As a general rule, butterfly-friendly plants include cornflowers, milkweed, goldenrod, willows, passion vine and hydrangeas. Keep in mind, though, that different butterflies like different flowers. Along with nectar food for mature butterflies, be sure to include larval food for caterpillars, and it’s best to select native plants rather than exotic species.

It is said that mature butterflies are attracted to vibrant colors, such as yellows, oranges, pinks and purples. Plan to have blooming plants from late spring to early fall.

3.) “Accessories”

With the correct selections at hand, it’s time to begin planting. To make your garden as environmentally friendly as possible, do not apply any pesticides or chemicals to your soil. In addition to your plants and flowers, butterflies also require a water source. Butterflies will not drink from open or deep areas, so the source needs to be kept shallow. Creating a small pit in mud or sand can provide the right amount of water for the insects, as well as does placing a small container in the soil. Just be sure to fill it with sand to keep it shallow.

Finally, add a few rocks to both the water source and the garden itself. These will provide the butterflies with resting places where they can also sun themselves.

While your backyard garden will never be a substitute for the butterflies’ natural habitat, it will give them a safe place to grow and thrive, even if only temporarily. The more effort you put into making a satisfactory home for the butterflies, the more satisfaction you’ll receive while you watch them flitzing about.

Photo courtesy jenscapes.com

Photo courtesy jenscapes.com

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    jen allgood said,

    Great blog and thank you for giving me credit on photo. It is my mom’s garden in New Hampshire.


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