By Jane Lake
Butterfly gardening is not only a joy, it is one way that you can help
restore declining butterfly populations. Simply adding a few new
plants to your backyard may attract dozens of different butterflies,
according to landscape designers at the University of Guelph.
Butterflies, like honeybees, are excellent pollinators and will help
increase your flower, fruit and vegetable production if you provide
them with a variety of flowers and shrubs. They are also beautiful to
watch, and are sometimes called "flowers on the wing."
- Begin by seeding part of your yard with a wildflower or butterfly
seed mix, available through seed catalogues and garden centers.
Wildflowers are a good food source for butterflies and their
- Choose simple flowers over double hybrids. They offer an
easy-to-reach nectar source.
- Provide a broad range of flower colors. Some butterflies like
oranges, reds and yellows while others are drawn toward white, purple
or blue flowers.
- Arrange wildflowers and cultivated plants in clumps to make it
easier for butterflies to identify them as a source of nectar.
- If caterpillars are destroying favorite plants, transfer them by
hand to another food source. Avoid the use of pesticides, which can
kill butterflies and other beneficial insects.
- Some common caterpillar food sources are asters, borage, chickweed,
clover, crabgrass, hollyhocks, lupines, mallows, marigold, milkweed or
butterfly weed, nasturtium, parsley, pearly everlasting, ragweed,
spicebush, thistle, violets and wisteria. Caterpillars also thrive on
trees such as ash, birch, black locust, elm and oak.
- Annual nectar plants include ageratum, alyssum, candy tuft, dill,
cosmos, pinks, pin cushion flower, verbena and zinnia.
- Common perennial nectar plants include chives, onions, pearly
everlasting, chamomile, butterfly weed, milkweeds, daisies, thistles,
purple coneflower, sea holly, blanket flower, lavender, marjoram,
mints, moss phlox, sage, stonecrops, goldenrod, dandelion and
Remember that butterflies are cold-blooded insects that bask in the
sun to warm their wings for flight and to orient themselves. They also
need shelter from the wind, a source of water, and partly shady areas
provided by trees and shrubs.
Copyright © 2005 Jane Lake
About the Author: Jane Lake is a professional writer whose articles
have appeared in Canadian Living, You, Modern Woman, and Highlights
magazines. See more information on butterflies in her article,
Butterfly Gardens: How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden and learn
how to make your own butterfly food and butterfly feeders in Butterfly