How To Start A Butterfly Garden
Starting a butterfly garden is one of the coolest things you can do to enhance your home. Being outdoors is great for both your mental and physical health so why not make it extra fun by making your environment more beautiful? By creating a garden that will invite butterflies you're not only helping them but you're making your own life more fun and colorful as well.
Butterflies not only bring beautiful colors and excitement to our lives, but they also help pollinate flowers and crops, play an important role in the food chain, and can be indicators of environmental quality. There are a number of different flowers and shrubs that can be used for a butterfly garden. But if you want to attract the highest number and variety, plants that support all stages of the butterfly life cycle need to be provided.
There are about 775 butterfly species in the United States and Canada and they all follow the same life cycle. This cycle starts with an egg (which is laid in the spring, summer, or fall). Once the egg is hatched, the larvae (or caterpillar) molt about 4 or 5 times as they grow before molting into a chrysalis or cocoon. This is how the creature changes into an actual adult butterfly. The whole process takes about 5 or 6 weeks. There are some species that go through only one cycle or generation every year. But there are some that may have up to 4 generations in a single season.
The butterfly's life cycle needs food for both the adult and larval stages. Food for the larval stage is usually the most important and some butterfly species are limited to a single host plant species that the larvae can live on. Butterflies lay their eggs on the type of plants that the larvae feed on. Most caterpillars will eat the leaves of their hosts but some species may eat other parts of the plant.
Adult butterflies can take nectar from many different species of flowering plants. Nectar is sipped through a straw-like proboscis. The butterfly also has feet that can detect or taste sweet liquids.
These insects love to frequent wildflowers and cultivated annuals or perennials. The characteristics that are most important for attracting butterflies include a large supply of nectar, a blossom with large petals, and flower color. They seem to like purple, yellow, pink, and white in that order.
Some great flowers to include in a butterfly garden include azaleas, lilacs, violets, bee balm, daisies, sunflowers, ironweed, asters, and clovers. Some trees that attract them include black cherry, elm, aspen, and willow.
The most popular food for butterflies is nectar but not all butterflies eat nectar. Some like to "puddle". This is when newly emerged males gather to take in moisture and minerals from damp sand, stream banks, or mud puddles. Sometimes a garden pool can attract butterflies to the edge of the water. Some species even find nourishment in the moisture from dead animals, tree sap, and rotting fruit.
If you really want to have a successful butterfly garden, it's a good idea to do some research about your local area. Find out what types of butterflies are common in your region and what their life cycles are like and what kind of plants they need. There is a ton of information online or you can buy a field guide like Butterflies and Moths of North America.
There are also many mixtures that can attract butterflies and moths. A common one involves the use of beer mixed with banana, brown sugar, molasses, raisins, and apple slices. Once the potion has fermented it's ready for use. You can also use it to attract moths. Just rub the mixture on tree trunks and it will attract them in the night. There is no perfect, secret formula. But the more time you spend experimenting, the better you'll be able to figure out your butterflies' needs. Butterfly gardens can be a great deal of fun. It's a great hobby and a great way to help the environment. If you have any interest in butterflies or starting a butterfly garden, I hope you found these tips interesting and I hope you'll consider starting your own garden.
nababutterfly.com. How To Start A Butterfly Garden accessed at https://nababutterfly.com/start-butterfly-garden on June 3, 2018.
monarchbutterflygarden.net. How to Start a Monarch Butterfly Garden that Brings Home the Butterflies…and Caterpillars accessed at https://monarchbutterflygarden.net/how-to-start-monarch-butterfly-garden on June 3, 2018.