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design articles collected in one spot.
Designing a Garden to Attract Butterflies
Butterflies linger in sunny places
Because they are “cold blooded”, butterflies require warmth
to be active. They do this by basking in the sunlight. Rarely do they
spend much time in the shade. When choosing a spot for your butterfly
garden, choose a sunny area. This will fulfill one more requirement
for the butterfly and provide one more “reason” to linger
in your garden. Oddly enough, most plants attracting butterfly adults
grow well in sunny exposures.
Butterflies linger in places protected from the wind
Because they are more wing than body, butterflies are affected by gusts
of wind. They linger longer in sunny locations, protected from the wind.
Wind protection can be in the form of a fence, wall, house, hedge, or
a tree lined area. So when choosing a place for your butterfly garden
pick a sunny spot that is protected somewhat from the wind. Such protection
will form a pleasant viewing backdrop for your butterfly garden.
Butterflies require moitsure and minerals: They will linger where
these are provided
Like all creatures, butterflies require water to live. Although plant
nectar is mostly water with dissolved sugars it is fairly low in mineral
salts needed to maintain their “animal” metabolism. Butterflies
cannot “drink” from bodies of water like most animals can.
They must “lick” water from moist surfaces. A basin of moist
soil, with added salts, especially sodium from ordinary table salt will
provide the nutrients needed by the butterflies. BE SURE TO KEEP THE BASIN
MOIST. The top of a conventional birdbath, slightly sunken in the ground
provides a decorative container for moist soil.
Butterflies linger where there is a source of nectar
By following the plant suggestions on the following pages you will provide
your adult butterfly friends with a season long source of nectar. You
will also provide a quiet corner of the world for yourself, filled with
a kaleidoscope of color and shapes. A butterfly garden attracts beauty
in all its forms. Many of the same flowers that attract butterflies, attract
People will want to linger in your butterfly garden to watch the butterflies
How much fun would a garden of any kind be if we weren’t able to
enjoy it to its full potential. Place your butterfly garden in areas that
you linger or will want to linger to enjoy the beauty you have created
and the butterflies that are attracted to it. Provide a bench, gazebo,
garden path or maybe just place for lawn chairs so you can relax and enjoy
the entire experience.
Butterflies have a life cycle
Butterflies have two feeding stages: the caterpillar and the mature stage.
You may choose to provide food sources for both stages by planting plants
that provide leaf material for the chewing caterpillars as well as the
nectar plants for the adults. Some plants provide both. When you think
about it, you can’t have one stage without the other. In order to
perpetuate the butterfly population locally, adequate caterpillar food
has to be present in your locale.
Butterflies are insects too
The same insecticides used to kill unwanted insects will also affect the
butterflies and their caterpillars. (Along with the other beneficial insects
like honey bees.) If you don’t already do so, you may want to share
your butterfly garden with the creatures you designed the garden to attract.
Planting a variety of plants in the same garden greatly decreases the
chances of any one being ruined by insects. Besides, in the long run,
are a few aphids so much to put up with to insure a safe haven for your
Brooklyn Botanical Garden. 1987 Gardening for Wildlife. Plants and Gardens,
Brooklyn Botanical Garden Record 43 (3).
Merilees, B. 1989. Attracting Backyard Wildlife. Stillwater MN: Voyageur
Tekulsky, M. 1985. The Butterfly Garden. Boston: Harvard Common Press.
Potter-Springer, W. 1990. Grow a Butterfly Garden. Pownal VT: Garden
Xerces Society/Smithsonian Institution. 1990. Butterfly Gardening. San
Francisco CA: Sierra Club Books.
Stokes, D. and L., Williams, E. 1991. The Butterfly Book. Boston MA:
Little, Brown and Company.
Established butterly gardens in New England
The Butterfly Place, Papillon Park, 120 Tyngsboro
Rd., Westford MA 01885
Newport Butterfly Farm, 594 Aquidneck Ave.,
Middleton RI 02842
On the web
Children’s Butterfly Site
American Butterfly Association
of North America