Do you love butterflies? I do!
It's quite wonderful to have lots of them flitting around the garden but most importantly, they play an essential role in nature.
By planting a variety of native flowering plants, we provide what they need for survival and, not only do they charm us with their beauty, but they pollinate the plants as well. Gotta love that circle of life.
Monarch butterflies are struggling right now because milkweed ( Asclepias)—the one plant they need for survival—is in short supply. Destruction of their natural habitat, climate changes, and the use of pesticides have all contributed to the problem.
There are 7 basic things you can do to make your garden not only attractive to butterflies but to also assist with their survival.
Be sure to choose plants that are specifically suited to your growing region.
Think of milkweed plants as the baby nursery for monarchs. Without these hardy, low-maintenance plants, monarch butterflies cannot survive. The females lay their eggs on milkweed plants because it's the only plant their offspring—monarch caterpillars—can eat. And that's why the milkweed shortage is so serious.
There are over 100 milkweed species but just 30 (or so) of these that the monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on, so do your homework before adding plants.
You can see some of the essential milkweed species in this collection. Also try a google search to see which ones are native to your region.
Once you have established several milkweed plants in your garden, watch for signs that something is eating the leaves. This is a positive indicator that the monarch caterpillars are feeding on your plants and getting ready to pupate (form a chrysalis). In just a few short weeks, new monarchs will emerge.
Native plants have adapted to the local climate and growing conditions to exist in harmony with wildlife and insects. Together they provide mutually-beneficial resources.
Butterflies need a variety of native, flowering plants from spring to fall. This will provide food for the migrations passing through in the spring and fall as well as nourishment for any populations that remain in your area.
Bright flower colors (reds, orange, purple) may attract butterflies, but it's the truly nectar-rich, native plants that will sustain them.
These are some of the plants I have in my garden (Ontario, Canada). Some of them are native, others are well-adapted to my growing zone.
- Daisies (Bellis perennis)
- Blazing stars (Listris)
- Evening primrose (Oenothera)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- Asters and golden rod (both are good for fall blooms)
You may notice that butterflies will have different preferences in each garden, even those right next to one another. I like to plant a variety of selections, wait and see what the butterflies (and bees, hummingbirds, birds, and other insects.) prefer, and then plant more of those.
Life in a garden depends not only on the plants themselves but an entire, intricate, self-reliant, circle of life from the tiniest soil microbes to the birds, bees, butterflies, and more.
There is no sense planting anything to attract butterflies or any wildlife when poisons (herbicides, pesticides, or insecticides) are present.
Organic gardening practices (without the use of harmful agents) ensures we have healthy, thriving gardens that benefit the entire web of life including the butterflies.
Did you know dead trees are a life source for a majority of insects and animals?
We're so quick to remove old tree stumps and leaves, but it is during the decomposition process that they give life to others, providing both food and shelter.
It depends on your location, but in some areas, butterflies spend the cold winter months nestled in old leaves, insulated from the cold until spring returns. Always leave some debris available for the wildlife in your garden.
Now go plant some milkweed! The butterflies are waiting.
Original article and pictures take http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-to-Attract-Butterflies-to-Your-Garden-/10000000204829197/g.html?roken2=ti.pTWVsaXNzYSBXaWxs site