July 25 2012
butterfly garden firstimage

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Butterflies are a beautiful addition to any garden. Every time we see one it brings a smile. They are light as a feather, colorful, happy creatures. But did you know they are the second largest group of animals on earth? Beetles are the largest group, with 300,000 known species. Butterflies and moths come in second, at an estimated 260,000 species. The main differences between butterflies and moths are that butterflies fly by day and are more brightly colored. Moths fly at night and have drab, neutral coloring.

Another interesting fact is that butterflies taste by touch. They actually have receptors on their feet and so when they land on a plant or flower they can taste whether it’s something they want. So how do you get them to come around tasting in your garden? Here we share some tips for attracting these beautiful insects.

One way is to grow plants that are attractive to butterflies. Most of these plants have butterfly in their name… plant some butterfly bush or butterfly weed/milkweed. You can ask your landscaping professional about other plants that butterflies like. Once you choose the plants that you intend to grow for the butterflies, learn how to prune and nurture them so that they thrive.  We call plants that caterpillars like, “host plants”, and once you see those caterpillars, you know that butterflies are not far behind.

It is known that butterflies like brightly colored plants. This is most likely because the bright plants and blooms have more nectar in them. The more bright and bold flowers you have in your garden, the more butterflies you might see. They like orange, yellow, blue, red and purple.

Keep an eye out for butterflies in other gardens or parks. When you see a group of butterflies, take notice to what plans they are hovering over. It is a smart idea to grow some native plants in your garden. It is known that if butterflies lay their eggs on non-native plants their offspring does not survive as well. Ask your gardener or landscaper about native plants for your area.

Is there a specific butterfly that you would like to attract? Research the butterfly species in your area and find out what they like.  One of the most common types of butterflies are swallowtail butterflies. In that category there are numerous species—like the Tiger swallowtail, Zebra swallowtail, and the Eastern Black swallowtail, which is common in the Northeast. Other types include Sulphurs and Whites, and Brush-footed butterflies.  It is fun to research and read about various kinds of butterflies and moths.

We all know about bird houses. But did you know that you can get a butterfly house? Adding this to your garden gives the butterflies a place to rest and to escape from wind or rain (or birds). You can also purchase butterfly feeders. You buy nectar and place it into the feeders, then hang the feeders in your garden.

When you make the effort to attract butterflies and give them food and shelter, you will be rewarded by their visits, and your guests will enjoy them, too.