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Attracting Butterflies to your Garden


Butterflies are not only beautiful to watch, they are also proficient at pollinating plants, making your entire garden healthier and more beautiful. Butterfly gardening is also a wonderful way to involve children and teens in gardening and the many uses of different plants.

When designing a butterfly garden, it’s important to give the butterflies several things to make the habitat attractive to them, and fulfill their life cycle needs. Nectar plant alone will attract transient butterflies looking for something to eat. However, to encourage them to remain and even colonize in your garden, you must also plant larval or host plants for the caterpillars to eat. Ideally you will also have a shallow mud puddle, to provide water, minerals, and salt. A flat light colored rock for your winged friends to bask in the warm sunlight. Plant several food sources of both nectar and host plant, to attract a variety of butterflies. Remember that you absolutely cannot use insecticides in a butterfly garden, use only natural biological pest control.

Making a butterfly puddle:
You can make a butterfly puddle by filling a container almost to the top with wet sand and burying the container in the ground. Add some twigs on the top of the sand for the butterflies to perch on. Male butterflies need additional sodium. Occasionally add a pinch of salt to the water to aid male butterflies during mating season.

The best nectar plants:
Foremost the specific plants to choose depends on the type of butterfly you wish to attract, but there are a couple general tips to consider. Butterflies are near sighted so fragrant flowers are a good choice to have in your garden. Also, butterflies tend to be attracted to large patches of flowers so plant groups of flowers clustered together. Larger butterflies prefer to perch on large compact flowers such as Marigolds.

For information on which butterflies are in your area and listings of which nectar and host plants attract them visit: USDA butterfly migration information.

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