How to Create a Butterfly Garden
- Locate in a sunny area, to provide food, shelter and water
- Plant Host plants such as fennel, parsley, red basil, Queen Anne's Lace milkweed and dill
- Plant Nectar producing flowers in colors of red-orange and yellow,
- Select single flower rather than double
- Diversity is the key in the selection of plant material - the more diverse the plant selection the more butterflies will be attracted.
- Make a statement with color - lots of color
- Plant for continuous bloom
- Include damp area for 'puddling'
- Provide flat stones for basking ( butterflies need 75-110 degrees for flight )
- Do not use pesticides
- Plant Natives
- Shelter form strong winds
- Provide some artificial feeders ( rotting bananas or cut citrus).
- Provide a butterfly house, although the Butterfly Society claims they really do not "work"!
- Provide a puddling saucer of damp sand
Interesting facts about Butterflies ' Jewels of the Sky'
- There are 20,000 kinds of butterflies, in the world twice that of birds
- The greatest diversity occurs in Central and South America
- There are 700 species in the USA
- The life span of a butterfly is about 2-4 weeks, except that of the Monarch which is 6 months.
- The butterfly life cycle consists of 4 stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), Pupa (chrysalis) and the adult butterfly
- Certain species require certain flowers for a good attraction match up
- Butterflies get their moisture not so much from 'puddling' in damp sandy soils but from the nectar and dew. Puddling will give them salts and minerals needed.
- Butterflies warm up their bodies by 'basking '
- Hilltopping' is a social activity that butterflies do to mate. The males fly to the highest hilltop in the area in search of a mate
- Territories are also important to the males of the butterflies and they do stake out areas.
- Butterflies like flat flowers and different species. The greater the variety of species, the greater will be the variety of butterflies.
Plant Materials that attract Butterflies
Herbs: bee balm, butterfly weed, dill, fennel, milkweed, parsley, meadow rue, rosemary, mints
Annuals:: Verbena, flat (French) marigolds, pentas, Mexican sunflower (tithonia), Zinnia (narrowleaf), Cosmos, asters, coreopsis, stokesia, impatiens ,clover, nasturtiums, coneflower rudbeckia, verbena
Perennials: Butterfly weed, Joe Pye Weed, Swamp sunflower, garden phlox, Autumn sun redbeckia, New England Aster. pentas, purple cone, black eyed Susan, coreopsis, Moss verbena (tenvisecta)
Shrubs: Abelia, Buddelia, Lantana. Firebush, Bottlebush, lantana virbrunum, plumbago, Azalea, Hibiscus
Other great resources:
A student at Union Free School District in New York suggests Garden Treasures - Where Do Butterflies Come From? as another helpful resource.
A reader suggests: Painted Lady Butterfly - a really great resource on the Painted Lady Butterfly and the metamorphosis process.
ButterflyPages.com - A collection of poems, stories, quotes and pictures all about butterflies.
House Plans and More has a good butterfly page.
www.butterflywebsite.com - Wow. What a beautiful site. With over 600 images this site will keep you busy. If you love those jewels in the sky, you'll love this one.
www.monarchwatch.org - The University of Kansas Entomology Program
www.learner.org/jnorth - A global study of wildlife management brought to you by Annenberg and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
www.ent.iastate.edu - Department of Entomology at Iowa State University
www.monarchlab.umn.edu - Explore Monarch Butterfly Biology with the University of Minnesota
www.naba.org - The North American Butterfly Association
www.xerces.org - The Xerces Society: Protecting biological diversity through invertebrate conservation.
Here is a good guide to North American Butterflies on a Wedding Site.