Create a space for butterflies
Most people would rather have less, not more, flying insects in their lawns. Butterflies, however, are often an exception to that rule. Because we enjoy watching these flying insects, it is easy to forget that providing for their needs can be extremely beneficial. Butterflies are greatly affected by alterations or destruction of natural habitats. By providing a friendly lawn you increase the chances for future generations of certain species and maybe attract some new ones as well. A butterfly garden is not only stunning to behold, but it also creates a natural habitat that provides butterflies with food and a place to breed and lay their eggs. A butterfly friendly lawn will have sunny open areas and abundant nectar flowers that draw the attention of butterflies. Hedges and other windbreaks offer protection from strong breezes. This keeps them flying among your flowers in times when they might be seeking safety. As time goes on, you will begin to notice which flowers attract the most butterflies and what species prefer which flower. Keeping a journal allows you to fine tune your butterfly friendly yard. Your records allow you to fine tune your gardens and flowers beds by adding to or replacing plants until you have a mixture sure to please your visitors.
Choose the right location
The right location is the foundation for a garden to attract butterflies. A good location is one that gets a minimum of five hours of sunlight per day. Avoid areas where insecticides are often used or where there’s minimal vegetation. It should also provide natural protection or shelter from the wind. Flat rocks and certain plants are good options for shelter. In addition, flat rocks are a place where butterflies can rest and enjoy the sun. Butterflies also need areas where there are puddles.
Meet their water needs
Puddles of water that form in soil have minerals and salt that are important for butterflies in several ways. These puddles serve both as a source of nourishment and a tool for reproduction. Often, butterflies gather around these puddles, which is a behavior known as “puddling.” Butterflies generally don’t get enough sodium from nectar alone, which makes muddy mineral-rich puddles a necessity. For reproduction, males need these nutrients in excess, as they pass them on to females during the mating process. Females lose this sodium when they lay their eggs. When planning a garden, people can create places for butterflies to get the water that they need if it does not puddle naturally. One way to do that is to place a shallow pan in or near the garden. Sprinkle dirt or sand at the bottom, and add more water as needed. For a more natural appearance, a pan or bowl can also be partially buried before adding the sand or dirt and the water.
Choose the right plants
After finding the right location for the garden and planning out puddling spots if needed, it’s time to choose and add the right plants. It’s necessary to have more than one type of plant to attract an assortment of butterfly species to the garden. When selecting plants, people should consider which butterfly species and which plants are native to the area. A gardener in your area can help you select native plants that will generally provide the ideal type of nectar to attract the butterflies that are common to the region. Additionally, butterfly gardens should not only have nectar-producing plants, but they must also have plants that can serve as food sources for caterpillars.
Right colour of flowers
Flowers are crucial when it comes to attracting butterflies, particularly their colour, fragrance, and shape. In general, most butterflies are not attracted to blooms that are greenish-blue or blue-green. They often prefer red, mauve, pink, lavender, white, or orange flowers. Flora with short tubes, flat tops, large petals, or clusters are also popular for many butterfly species. When planning your landscape and selecting flowers, make sure that they are nectar- and pollen-rich. Strongly scented flowers help attract butterflies, as the scent alerts them that nectar is present. Marigolds, coneflowers, asters, Shasta daisies, lavender, and zinnias are just some of the plants that are suitable for butterfly-friendly gardens. Plants like milkweed, thistle, nettle, and fennel are also decent food sources for caterpillars. The following plants are also pollinator-friendly, and less likely to be swamped by grass: field scabious, teasel, meadow cranesbill, cowslip, selfheal, red campion, betony and meadow buttercup. As well as providing nectar, some of these plants are also butterfly caterpillar food plants. By including host plants, you are encouraging butterflies to lay eggs in your little corner of the world. This will give you a growing population of butterflies. What a wonderful way to learn about one of God's marvelous wonders as you watch caterpillars grow, pupate and become a beautiful butterfly before your very eyes.
Incorporate host plants
Host plants are plants the female lays her eggs on or near. As the eggs hatch, tiny caterpillars or larvae start eating away. In a few weeks they pupate and later become adult butterflies. By adding fruit trees and fruit feeders, you can make your gardens alluring to butterflies that do not depend on nectar. An abundance of host plants improves the chances for populations to maintain and increase. Where hummer flowers are typically tubular in shape, butterflies enjoy clusters of tiny flowers where they can perch and sip. Some flowers attract both hummers and butterflies and this can help you when building your gardens. Flowers like butterfly bush and Mexican sunflower are a favorite to both of these winged marvels. Here is a good list of butterfly plants: Hollyhock, Buddleias, California lilac, Purple coneflower, Joe-Pye-weed, Sunflower, Hibiscus, Blazing star, Spicebush, Tulip tree, Mallow, Common oregano, Passionflower, Parsley, Black-eyed-Susan, Ageratum, Annual phlox, Bachelor's button, Borage, Annual Aster, Cosmos, Dahlia, Dill, Fennel, Globe amaranth, Impatiens, Marigold, Nasturtium, Pentas, Petunia, Snapdragon, Snow-on the-mountain, Sweet alyssum, Verbena and Zinnia. The right butterfly plants will make your garden come alive. Your lawn will give you hours of enjoyment and education as you observe the habits of your butterflies. You may want to interact more closely as nature unfolds in front of you. Butterflies are truly winged marvels that attract your kids and grand kids.-TTN