Attracting Butterflies

Most of us would agree that we enjoy seeing butterflies on our property, but most of us don’t realize how easy and inexpensive it is to create a butterfly haven.  Before selecting any plants, be sure you know what butterfly species are native to your area.  While the Monarch is found in most of the U.S., there are a host of other species that you will want to attract. Our friends at the NRCS tell us that butterfly larvae have certain food requirements.  Most can only survive on a few types of plants.  For example, Monarch larvae feed on milkweed plants, the Viceroy larvae feed on willow and poplar leaves, and the Black Swallowtail larvae feed on plants such carrots and parsley.  Adult butterflies need a source of nectar from either sap or overripe fruits.  Examples include, phlox, clover, zinnias, lantana, liatris. and goldenrod. According to the NRCS, there are a few suggestions to make your property a butterfly haven:

  1. Avoid insecticides.  Butterflies are insects and most insecticides will kill them.
  2. Know what the larvae of butterflies look like.
  3. Plant a variety of flowers that bloom from the spring until the fall and include native species.
  4. Single flowers are easier for butterflies to get nectar than double blossoms which are fuller.
  5. Locate your butterfly “garden” in the sun.
  6. Provide some source of water for them even if it is a shallow pan of water.
  7. Include a few flat rocks in the sun.  It is somewhat of a landing and take off place for them and also a place to bask in the sun.
  8. And last but not least, be patient….sometimes it takes awhile for butterflies to find a new home, a new haven, and a new place to flourish.

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