Butterflies are beautiful creatures that live abundantly on every continent except Antarctica. To attract butterflies to your garden it is wise to first research which butterflies are native to your area. Learn about their life cycle, eating, and mating habits, as all of these factors will effect how your garden should be planned.

General Tips to Attract Butterflies

Under no circumstances should pesticides (or any other chemical) be used in a butterfly garden.

If you already have a garden, a great way to attract butterflies is to let a portion of the garden grow as it will. Let nature reclaim.

Sun is essential. butterflies are cold blooded creatures. They need sunlight to fly.

Wind is a no-no. block wind with shrubs or fencing with climbing plants such as honeysuckle (which has plenty of nectar to attract butterflies). Shrubs will also act as an area for butterflies to roost and lay eggs.

Butterflies, like humans, are social creatures. Create a "water cooler" for them by leaving a dish with clean fresh water in the garden area. Be sure to change the water regularly to keep the butterflies coming back.

Many butterflies, particularly monarchs, love watermelon. Leaving bits of fresh watermelon in the garden will attract many!

Butterflies will look for the most suitable food source for caterpillars on which to lay their eggs. This varies from species to species. For example, the monarch butterfly and it's larva eat only milkweed. parsley, thistle, violet, and dill plants make excellent food sources for many species of larva.

Plant annuals and perennials which will allow the garden to be in constant bloom from early spring through late summer. Plant in varying heights, and cluster similar flowers together, that makes them easier for the butterflies to see. Fragrant plants that produce nectar will attract the most butterflies. Some good examples are:

Male butterflies need certain minerals found in mud for them to be fertile. They engage in a behavior called "puddling" when they find a little mud puddle and are in need of said minerals. They gather in groups and sip up the muddy water. So, the water in the butterfly garden should be muddy water with lots of solid surface area for butterflies to alight. A plant saucer filled with rocks and dirt then watered until a thin layer of water is over the dirt and some rocks are completely above the water is good for this. Place in a sunny location.

I had the joy of seeing a young swallowtail butterfly as it first unfurled spirally wrapped wings, pump them until they filled with fluid and stiffened. The cutie flew a tiny circle, landed, rested and then took off over the roof. It took about 3 hours.

This happened in a part of my garden full of bronze fennel. I grow it and parsley specifically for the caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly. They are common in my area. Fennel and parsley, dill are biennials and will form a sort of volunteer perpetual herb garden if allowed to go to seed over open and loose soil (not too much mulch or the seed won't germinate).

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