“Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine.” -Jeffrey Glassberg
People love watching butterflies as they gradually and graciously float through the water. If you never have, I highly recommend you do! Butterflies in an often imperfect world have elegance and beauty. They give us insight into nature’s environment and how magnificent and dynamic it is. But the butterfly is much more than that. Let me share with you the importance of a butterfly garden.
People are in need of butterflies. Sometimes overlooked, they play an important role in maintaining the balance of the living world’s existence and wellbeing. Butterflies pollinate wild plants and our crops, ensuring the development of seeds and fruits needed for plants and animals, including humans, to continue to survive.
Butterflies are delicate indicators of habitat health due to their fragility of environmental change. In addition, butterflies are an important source of nutrition for songbirds. Worldwide, there are more than 17,000 butterfly species–7,000 of which are in North America alone. Butterflies weigh as little as 2 rose petals, but they are able to fly around the world. Deforestation and urban development challenge their ecosystems. Because of this, several species are starting to become endangered and eventually die away.
Legend and mythology also attribute certain mystical attributes to the common butterfly. An Irish blessing goes: “May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun, and find your shoulder to light on to bring you luck, happiness and riches today, tomorrow and beyond.”
Poets also have embraced the butterfly as an inspiration to write.
Butterflies In Your Backyard
Highly colored butterflies may be a welcoming addition to the natural ecosystem in the backyard. Butterfly gardening is one of the common hobbies today. What could bring more happiness to your garden than a beautiful butterfly fluttering?!
To attract butterflies, you don’t really need a special greenhouse. When plants in your garden cater to them, they will be noticed by butterflies.
A good butterfly garden should be built not only to attract all butterflies but also to provide them with a place for hibernating and laying eggs and feeding larvae or caterpillars. Various butterfly species have different plant preferences.
The butterfly flittering through your garden is no mistake if you are carefully preparing your garden. The adult butterfly is flittering from flower to flower-sipping nectar from many flowers in your gardens, while other adult butterflies are searching for places where their larvae can be deposited.
By creating a garden environment that provides shelter, food, water, and fragrance, the butterfly is looking for you to succeed in butterfly gardening.
Yet how are you doing this? It’s actually quite easy to create a garden area that will attract butterflies. It’s just about learning a little about what kinds of plants like butterflies, how to protect those plants, and that’s about it! You can learn about these plants, how to grow them for optimum beauty, and how to make your garden a place where butterflies can fly freely.
How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden
If you are considering creating a butterfly garden, consider your resources for a few moments. The answers to these questions will help you determine your garden’s size and scope. How long are you prepared (or able) to spend in your garden planting and maintenance? How much time would you like to devote? Is the garden supposed to be formal or informal? Can you supply butterfly nectar seeds, food crops for caterpillars, or both? How will you cope with pesticide-free pest problems? Were you ready to deter birds who eat insects (no nest boxes or berry bushes)?
Finding out which butterflies are in your area should be another step. With your field guide and a pair of binoculars, you can do this by spending some time outside to see which animals are around you. Expect on 4-5 to use hours from mid-morning to early afternoon trying to spot three-day butterflies. If you’re serious about it, it’s going to be worth it! Check the internet for the natural abundance of butterflies in your area.
Some butterflies prefer high-wind cover. We like clear, sunshine places, at the same time. Windbreak plantings or other ways to protect the butterfly garden may help to provide an acceptable physical environment.
Several forms of butterflies (mostly males) can often be seen on damp sand or mud collecting around water puddles where they feed. The role of these “mud-puddle groups” is not fully understood, but it is assumed that the insects require dissolved minerals in the water. Maintaining a slightly salty, humid environment in the yard may attract these butterfly bands.
- CREATE a large patch of a plant species when preparing a garden to attract and retain butterflies. Imagine sequentially blooming flowers. This is particularly important in the summer as flowers are most frequently visited by butterflies.
- MAP your yard and choose the spot that enjoys the lowest wind and the most sunlight. You will also want to take into account the rising needs of the plants that you are going to put in along with their growing needs.
- PLANT your butterfly garden in a sunny place (5-6 hours a day), but far from the storms. Butterflies need the sun to heat up, but in an environment where they are constantly fighting the wind to survive on the crops, they won’t want to feed themselves. The afternoon sun will not only take in many butterflies, but it will also have magnificent viewing light and taking pictures of them. If you can see from the door of your kitchen or living room, it’s a bonus. Your position should be quiet and fairly undisturbed–suggesting human visitors only rarely. The more organic the region would draw more butterfly numbers and variety.
Provide shelter and cover such as wide-leaved trees, shrubs, and stacks of logs. You also want several landing pads and sunbathing perches throughout the garden are open and sunny areas. Butterflies rely on these open spots to a large extent for thermal warmth and sunbathing. Most often, these are a number of large varying stone sizes that can also be used for decorative purposes.
Figure out what kind of soil you have. Is it well-drained, or very dry, sandy, mud, wetland? When picking the seeds, this is very important to know. Checking the soil is a good idea. This will give you valuable insight into your soil’s chemical make-up and condition (texture).
If required, the soil analysis laboratory would happily have suggestions for improving soil fertility and drainage. This can also make a difference in what crop varieties in your garden will flourish.
Which kinds of trees are there in the area? This is important since most moth larvae consume tree leaves; for some swallowtails, leaves are also the food plant and the mourning cloak. Many trees also grow enticing flowers for adult butterflies. Rare plants are called butterfly trees which can cost hundreds and hundreds of butterflies. These include red oaks and birch trees.
Butterflies just like we do want butterfly food. Hold a mud puddle moist in a sunny place, or fill a bucket with enough sand and water to make the sand wet. Saturate the sand periodically to keep it moist. You can hide it, too for aesthetic purposes, the bucket on the floor provides access to it by covering it with some small rocks. A patch of wet sand or soil appreciates male butterflies. They drink salts and other minerals from the sand, a “puddling” action. Upon sex, the minerals are transferred in a sperm packet to enrich the larvae.
In order to include butterfly use in your environment, you need to create a safe space for your butterflies to feel safe. Butterflies visit familiar places where they feel safe and vegetation areas follow the tree lines. It will serve to draw even more of these beautiful animals to your gardens by building your butterfly gardens around or around trees. You should also include hedges; small trees and shrubs; or vine-covered walls, fencing, trellises. Butterflies are drawn to areas where they can collect food for their offspring. The caterpillar is feeding on the plants while the adult butterflies are sipping on the nectar of the flowers.
The number of butterflies in your gardens will also rise as the trees, shrubs, and flowers mature. The plants and flowers you place in your garden this year will attract just a handful, but in the years to come, they will be attracted to your garden by the butterfly’s natural instinct.
What’s the hunt for the adult butterfly in your garden? The butterfly is looking for places where high winds, floods, and summer storms can take shelter. This is where trees and shrubs are important to protect the butterfly and provide protection in your gardens. The butterfly needs the wide-open areas of your lawn and garden during the usual, warm sunny summer day.
Butterflies are going to search for thin, sandy soil to find water. The sandy soil that allows the puddling of rain afterward a rainstorm is a butterfly’s delight. The developing stages of the caterpillar to the butterfly are observed often in the established butterfly garden.
Butterflies don’t need anything fancy or expensive: just a large, open, sun-filled area; some flowers, for adults; some food sources, for caterpillars; shelter; puddles; and rocks. You might consider planting an herb garden if you enjoy herbs – many butterfly species do too.
So now you have the location and a plan put in place for your garden. The next step is to figure out what plants you want to put in to attract butterflies.
Plants To Attract Butterflies
You will need plants to serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly to attract the largest number of butterflies and have them as tenants in your yard. We need a place to lay larvae, larva (caterpillar) food plants, a place to create a chrysalis, and adult nectar sources.
The majority of adult butterflies live for 10-20 days. Most, though, are believed to live no more than three to four days, while others may live for six months, such as overwintering monarchs.
Butterfly tarsi or “feet” have a taste-like feeling. Touch with sweet fluids like nectar contributes to the uncoiling of the proboscis. Millions of shingle-like, overlapping scales bring their color and pattern to butterfly wings. Metallic, iridescent tones originate from faced scales that refract light; pigmented scales are the solid colors.
The caterpillar may increase its body size more than 30,000 times over the period from hatching to pupating (forming the pupa or chrysalis). The chrysalises or pupae of many different gossamer wings— a group of butterflies that includes blues, hairstreaks, and elfins— can create soft sounds. Through bending and rubbing together the membranes of the body segment, noises are produced that can scare off tiny rodents and parasites.
You need to provide the best environment to make a yard more appealing for butterflies. Food plants used through the juvenile stages (various caterpillars), food sources used by adult butterflies, and the physical environment are the most important.
The juvenile caterpillar stage allows adult female butterflies to spend time looking for food plants. Some butterflies establish unique host plants. For example, the monarch butterfly’s caterpillars only live on milkweed, while the black swallowtail only feeds on parsley, dill, and closely related plants. They can lay eggs on it when females find the right host plant.
The provision of the required food plants for the growth of caterpillars also makes it possible to grow a “natural” population that can be seen at all stages of development. Nonetheless, some animals fly away like adult butterflies. Plants that attract butterflies can be classified into two categories; those which attract adults and those which are butterfly larvae feed plants (Caterpillars). Plant a good mix of both types to draw more than just the passing wanderer.
You would certainly have butterflies coming and remaining by having plants that the caterpillars will feed on. Please remember that the leaves of these plants will be consumed by Caterpillars, so you have to recognize the damage and ignore the insecticides.
Butterflies searching for nectar are attracted to
- red, yellow, orange, pink, or purple blossoms
- flat-topped or clustered flowers
- short flower tubes
Short flower tubes allow butterflies to enter the nectar with their proboscis. For open, sunny fields, nectar-producing plants should be planted, as most species of humans seldom feed on plants in the shade. Many caterpillars are eaters challenging. They focus on just one or two species of plants. The giant swallowtail butterfly caterpillar feeds on just two native plant foods-Northern prickly ash and hops fruit in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Others are going to feed on a number of deciduous trees including red-spotted violet.
Food usually consists of adult butterfly sweet fluids, such as nectar flowers that provide energy. Most flowers have more nectar, and more stunning are the butterflies. Various flowers and floral arrangements are also often more appealing. Most animals consume honeydew, plant sap, rotting fruit, and even dung from birds.
To attract butterflies to your garden, you need the flowers that provide the nectar that feeds butterflies. Nectar is the butterfly’s main source of food. To raise the butterflies in your greenhouse, you need to grow the plants that caterpillars eat.
A number of plants can attract caterpillars. If you want the caterpillar to be turned into a butterfly, seed it and let it come.
How long do butterflies stay in the garden?
As far as adult butterflies, they will stay in your garden for longer periods of time if you have the plants for them to lay their eggs on. At the same time, flowering fields of plants are more enticing to butterflies than a single plant with a few flowers. Try to plant your flowers in sunny spots and provide some stones or stone walls to heat up in the morning where they can “bask.” Provide a few protected places to shield them from wind and rain, such as shrubbery and brush piles, and provide a nice place to pupate for caterpillars. Also, if you can, plant more than one nectar source. It will allow more butterflies to visit the garden by planting a number of nectar sources.
Bright colors seem to draw more butterflies, but more importantly, they can navigate the garden better with large swaths of light.
You may want the appropriately called butterfly bush to be included. This big (up to 10 feet) shrub is a butterfly magnet. The fragile silver foliage provides a nice contrast to evergreens in mild winter regions.
By late winter, you can cut back to about 18 “because it will grow fast! In a small garden, stick to one of the dwarf varieties to around 5 inches (Nanho green, petite indigo, and others). Buddleia is now considered an invasive plant by coastal areas. Look for and eradicate seedlings. When you live near a natural area, plant an alternative such as native wild lilac.
Why Have A Butterfly Garden
Besides the reason for the importance of a butterfly garden, they’re just gorgeous, there’s a host of other explanations why you might want to see these flittering animals in your backyard. While considering the role of the butterfly in the environment as well as the symbolic image of butterflies through different cultures, these explanations are both pragmatic and mysterious.
We think that drawing butterflies are the most interesting part, what they represent and symbolize in nature. First, we’re going to look at that part. You might be quite shocked in the process and learn a little bit!
Since ancient times, butterflies have fascinated mankind not only for their aesthetic quality, but also as spiritual beings, a sign of metamorphosis, rebirth, devotion, hope, and liberty. This is the only post that discusses the role of the butterfly in history, theology, culture, architecture, and decorative arts, and includes beautiful pictures ranging from ancient stone carvings to modern furniture, Pompeian mosaics to porcelain from Sevres.
Butterflies seem to have a lot to do with luck, as well as evil. “In Louisiana, good luck is believed to follow soon after a white butterfly comes into your house and flies around you.” However, in Maryland, the same action is an omen of death.
In many civilizations, the life cycle of butterflies and moths was used to describe other things. The hatching of the egg is the human birth version. The caterpillar is the stage of life; the lowly “worm” waiting for rebirth, just as we expect our reward in an afterlife Another sign of metamorphosis is found in the chrysalis (pupa) and cocoon. This is the “magical closet” where there is going to be an amazing transformation. It is the defensive cover that will provide protection for the transition.
The pupa or cocoon is a natural sign to shield butterfly and moth metamorphosis is one of Nature’s mysteries. The skill of these species is almost mystical to move from the creeping caterpillar to the flying adult. Most people are so awe-inspired by the metamorphosis that they believe that without a deity behind it, butterflies and moths could never have evolved over millions of years.
The butterfly exists in four distinct forms. I say we do this: the fertilized egg is being placed in the uterus of our mother. We’re like the caterpillar from our birthday that can only feed and crawl along. We’re like the inactive pupa in her chrysalis when we die. The consciousness emerges from the cast-off body after that, and some see the butterfly appearing in this. Thus, after death, the butterfly symbolizes rebirth.