Who doesn’t love the beauty and elegance of the butterfly? Depending on what part of the country you live in, the species and colors can vary, but they are all certainly eye-catching.
Unfortunately, many butterfly populations have been severely affected in the last few years by environmental changes and human interference, and they are becoming a rare sight in some states. Butterflies provide an important service to our environment by pollinating our plants, spreading pollen over large areas, and acting as a food source for other species. So why not do something to support these amazing insects while at the same time increasing your enjoyment of them?
Creating a butterfly garden is not all that hard. With a little prepping and the right natural elements, setting one up can be done over a weekend. Depending on what species are common to your area, the plants you will need will differ. You can find this out by doing a little research online or at the library. Butterflies feed on nectar, and some common nectar plants are zinnia, black-eyed Susan, aster, and daisy. However, there are hundreds are varieties to choose from. Again, the types of plants you purchase will depend on where you live and the time of year you are planting. Don’t forget, you also have to provide host plants for the larvae, such as milkweed, parsley and dill. After all, before the beauty of the butterfly comes the plain old caterpillar. And avoid pesticides at all costs so as not to harm the insects.
Of course, your garden should be in a nice sunny spot and somewhat sheltered from the wind, if possible. Besides plants, also include some nice big rocks. Butterflies love a warm place to land, and rocks work just fine once the sun is done heating them up. Another important item butterflies appreciate is fresh water. Fill a bird bath or old container and include some wet sand so they have a place to perch while drinking. They cannot hover over the water to drink. A small shrub is also welcome as a place where they can cool off on a hot day and settle down in the evenings.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to attract these creatures and add some real live color to your garden. You will also be doing these beauties a favor by providing them with a sanctuary where they can get the nutrients and the shelter that they need to flourish. A butterfly garden is a joyous place for these insects and the humans that get to observe them.
Written for The Country Register of the US and Canada