Butterflies are one of the most popular and beloved insects in the world. What's not to love about them? They’re colorful, they’re magical, and just like the bees, they also help in flower pollinations. Their colorful characteristics complete the outdoor garden we worked hard for.
Due to the use of pesticides, there has been a decline in the population of these beautiful insects. Fortunately, anyone can help create a habitat for butterflies. They’re a welcome addition to any type of outdoor space and you already have the elements to create a home for them.
Use a diverse variety of plants. Of course, you’ll want to check with your local plant nursery which plants are available in your area and which of these would most likely attract butterflies. Nectar plants are sure to attract different species of butterflies. Marigolds, sunflowers, cosmos, and thistles, to name a few, are just some of the most common plants with sugary fluids. There are also certain species of butterflies attracted to a certain type of flowers. For example, the monarch butterfly goes crazy for blazing star and milkweed. Monarchs even raise their young in milkweed plants.
Some butterflies are attracted to huge blocks of colors hence, planting several of the same plant species in a bunch will likely attract them. Plant flowers in different colors, shapes, and sizes to attract different kinds of butterfly species. This won’t be easy and will likely be trial and error as you find which flowers are attractive to butterflies. The good thing is that your garden will be in full bloom with different varieties of flowers which make it a win-win situation.
If you want butterflies to reproduce in your garden, this can be more challenging than just attracting them. Host plants or caterpillar food plants are where the butterfly raises their caterpillars. Again, like the nectar plants, each species of butterfly have different preferences for host plants. As Monarchs thrive on milkweeds, others feast on buckwheats and some even on veggies and herbs like fennel and parsley.
Butterflies are cold-blooded and so they need sun for warmth but also consider having a shaded area when it’s windy. Add plants they can perch on with a varied structure consisting of tall plants, shrubs, hedges. Trees, as well as different sizes of rocks, provide a safe haven for butterflies. Word of caution, some plants especially nectar plants are also attractive to bees. If you have kids, make sure that you don’t place these nectar plants in an area where they often play to avoid stinging.
While most butterflies are attracted to nectar plants, there are some butterflies who prefer rotting fruit. A small hanging planter can be used to place fruits. Some butterflies that are attracted to rotting fruits are malachite, red-spotted purple, mourning cloak and tawny emperors. The problem with fruit feeders is that it’ll attract a lot of other uninvited critters such as ants on the top of the list.
As with all creatures, butterflies need water to survive. Butterflies aren’t picky when it comes to their water sources, even settling for damp soil. But if you’re looking to complement your landscape design, consider adding a small water feature such as a fountain. Small birdbaths or water buckets placed in the center of the flower beds also work. To avoid mosquitoes from breeding, replace and clean the fountain or container every now and then.
Like some birds, butterflies love alleys enclosed with a variety of plants. Create a diverse landscape that includes shrubs, with tall and short plants, hedges, and even rocks. Consider incorporating a place for the butterflies to rest and bask in the warmth of the sun. Not only will your landscape look amazing, you’ll also attract different species of butterflies along the process.
This may not sit in well with a lot of people who like to keep their yards and gardens clean but pupation typically takes place in those piles of fallen leaves and between nooks and crannies of twigs or rocks. For this reason, you may want to hold up on the cleaning a bit till spring when they’re done with their metamorphosis stage.
Caterpillars prefer dark places to form a chrysalis so shrubs and hedges can be the perfect place for them.
This is quite obvious but because of pesky insects like mosquitoes, people still can’t stop using these deadly toxins. A safer alternative would be to look for nontoxic pesticides or grow some mosquito-repelling plants. Marigolds and mint are said to be despised by mosquitoes. Beneficial insects such as ladybugs can consume mosquitoes and rid your garden of other pests. Other beneficial insects include the praying mantis and green lacewings. These insects are popularly used and release in greenhouses and gardens to keep mosquitoes at a minimum.
Butterflies can easily be scared of any sudden movement so you want to keep still and enjoy the silence as you watch them fly around in your garden. Having a garden bench where you can sit and enjoy the view allows both you and the butterflies to revel in the moment.
Different species of butterflies thrive in different areas. The climate, the area where you live in, and the type of plants that grow in your location will certainly have an effect on the type of butterflies you’re going to attract. If you really want to create a butterfly garden, you have to educate yourself what type of butterflies are native to your areas and the plants that attract them.