Build A Butterfly Garden
Did you know that habitat destruction is one of the greatest threats to butterflies everywhere? Tropical rainforests, which provide homes to the majority of the world’s butterfly population, are being destroyed at the rate of 50 acres per minute. By creating your own backyard butterfly garden, not only will you get to enjoy the beauty of these gorgeous creatures up close, but you will be helping the efforts of butterfly conservation.
Needs of Butterflies
A perfect butterfly garden provides for all the needs of butterflies throughout their life cycle. In addition to host plants and nectar plants, butterflies need sheltered areas to feed and lay eggs, areas of sunshine and shade, as well as watery areas to encourage butterfly puddling.
Butterfly Garden Guide
Follow these steps and build a butterfly garden that will attract beautiful butterflies to your yard all summer long.
Research native butterflies. Before you can get started planting your garden, you need to know which butterfly populations are native to your area. If you live in the United States, this map will give you lists of butterflies native to each state.
Choose plants that appeal to the butterflies in your region. You will want to fill your garden with a variety of host plants for catterpillars, as well as nectar plants for butterflies. This chart gives an excellent breakdown of which nectar plants you will need depending on the butterflies in your local area. You will also need to choose several varieties of host plants which provide the space for butterflies to lay their eggs, as well as leaves for hungry caterpillars to munch as they grow.
Plant shrubs or shade trees to create a wind barrier. Butterflies will not lay their eggs in places that are windy. By planting shrubs or trees to create a wind barrier, you will ensure that the butterflies feel safe to breed and lay their eggs in your garden.
Provide sunny and shady spots in your garden. Because butterflies are cold-blooded, they cannot internally regulate their body temperature. Some nice rocks strategically located in your garden will provide spots for the butterflies to bask in the sun, while sheltered spots can provide space for butterflies to hide on very hot or windy days.
Encourage butterfly puddling. Because butterflies cannot drink directly from open water, it is best to create areas for butterfly puddling. Butterflies will sip moisture from puddles of sand or mud, which allows them to also benefit of the salts and minerals in the soil. To encourage butterfly puddling, place a bowl of wet sand or mud in your garden.
Minimize use of pesticides. Obviously, you will not want to use insecticides on or near your butterfly garden or you may end up killing off the very creatures you are trying to attract. Consider using natural pesticide alternatives. And most of all, try to keep your garden healthy in other ways. Make sure to select plants that are native to your area. Keep your sun-loving plants in the sun and your shade-loving plants in the shade. If you do develop a pest problem, use pesticides as sparingly as possible.
Enjoy your butterfly garden. Your garden is planted and the butterflies are delighted with their new habitat. Now is the time to set up some lawn chairs and enjoy all the beautiful fruits of your labor.