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BUTTERFLIES | BUTTERFLY GARDENING | PBUTTERFLY HABITATS

Butterfly-friendly Gardens

With a little planning you can easily attract butterflies to your backyard. All you need to do is provide a some plants on which the caterpillars can feed and flowers from which the adults can gather nectar. Not only will this attract butterflies for your own enjoyment, but it will also help the butterfly flourish.

Your first step should be to find out which butterflies are in your area. You can do this by spending some time outdoors with your field guide to see which species are around. Check here to determine which butterflies are common to your state.

Select a warm, sunny site sheltered from high winds. Butterflies need sun to keep warm, and most of the nectar-rich plants they sip from— black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), aster, joe-pye weed (Eupatorium), gay-feather (Liatris), butterfly bush (Buddlea), purple coneflower (Echinacea), butterfly weed (Asclepias) and coreopsis— grow best in full sun.

Grow lots of nectar producing plants

Grow plants upon which adult butterflies lay their eggs and caterpillars (the larval stage of butterflies) dine. Each type of butterfly searches for specific plant species among weeds, vegetables, perennials, shrubs and trees. Most caterpillars feed on leaves.

Keep a mud puddle nearby

Maintain a mud puddle or a patch of moist sand in the garden. You can fill a bowl with wet sand and sink it to ground level. Arrange some flat stones near flowers and at the edge of the puddle for butterflies to bask on and heat up their wing muscles.

Good nectar plants

Different species of butterflies have different preferences of nectar, in both colors and tastes. A wide variety of food plants will give the greatest diversity of visitors. Try staggering wild and cultivated plants, as well as blooming times of the day and year. Groups of the same plants will be easier for butterflies to see than singly planted flowers.

Monarch butterfly

What's the difference between a moth and butterfly?

Not much. There are some morphological differences between butterflies and moths. There are plenty of exceptions which break these 'rules', but in general there are five five differences:

  1. Butterflies have always knobbed antennae, the antennae of moths are quite variable but never knobbed

  2. Butterflies fly during the day, moths fly during the night

  3. Butterflies rest with their wings vertically clapped above their bodies, moths rest with their wings horizontally on their bodies

  4. Butterflies do have less hairy bodies in comparison with moths

  5. Butterflies do not have tiny hooks or bristles which link fore wing to hind wing as in mothscabbage moth butterfly

Only point five doesn't know any exception, but the hooks are often too tiny to see without a magnifying lens.

In contrast with butterflies most moths do not have a functional proboscis (snout-like tube for sucking nectar from plants). Those moths live off one's fat reserves, obtained during the larval stage.

Plants that butterflies love

Different species of butterflies have different preferences of nectar, in both colors and tastes. A wide variety of food plants will give the greatest diversity of visitors. Try staggering wild and cultivated plants, as well as blooming times of the day and year. Groups of the same plants will be easier for butterflies to see than singly planted flowers.

Read more about which plants to plant to attract more butterflys to your landscape...

The butterfly life cycle

A butterfly goes through a complete transformation that is truly amazing from tiny egg to a large butterfly.

Read more about which plants to plant to attract more butterflys to your landscape...