Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Butterfly Gardening Tips

We had so many enthusiastic questions at the Butler Library Butterfly Garden program tonight, I thought you might enjoy a few of my favorite quick tips for attracting butterflies. And looking at this beautiful Red-spotted Purple makes me think of one more secret to bringing winged-jewels into your garden. You'll find it at the bottom of the article.

Here are the main tips you need to know and a little explanation after each.
•Nectar Plants/ Host Plants
Don't just grow "flowers," butterfly larva are critical to a healthy population. Learn about the plants that the caterpillars feed on: willows, cherry tree, serviceberry, spicebush, asters, grasses, nettles and many, many more
Make your butterfly garden look like a native patch of flowers- Use big swathes of color.

•Not too neat!
Don't groom your garden too much, caterpillars need to crawl off to pupate,
and often attach themselves to dead vegetation for this purpose

LAyeRS for INtereST
Mix it Up! Best butterfly garden I have ever seen was built with mounds and walkways.

•NO Pesticides /herbicides
Let's not kill the creatures we are trying to help. Butterflies are extremely sensitive to chemicals.
•Add a rock or mud!
Butterflies are exothermic- they warm up in the sun (like the RSP in the photo). Treat your butterflies to a rock and some mud for a big puddle party! And not all butterflies utilize flowers- the "secret" for Red-Spotted Purples? They love compost piles and other green manures. Who would have guessed it? Yummm!

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