Setting up a Butterfly Garden

One of the best parts of a summer day is watching butterflies drift in lazy patterns across the yard.They are a delicate and graceful part of the world and evoke such wonderful memories. When I am watching them, I feel quiet and content. For just a moment, they create a space in my mind that is free from worry.

I have been reading about the slow demise of the butterfly population and I want to be part of the solution. I want to try and give them a spot to rest, eat and hopefully flourish. I grew up in Hawaii and have wonderful memories of the monarch butterfly. We would catch caterpillars and feed them til it was times for them to form a cocoon. They have a beautiful green cocoon with gold dots. As it gets closer to coming out, the cocoon becomes more transparent and you can see the butterfly inside. When the time is near, we would check on them all the time. I would sit on the grass and just watch them slowly squeeze out from their cocoon and those beautiful black and orange wings would stretch and spread. When they were ready, they would catch a breeze and drift away. What a great way to spend an afternoon !

I live in the Midwest now and I have driven down gravel roads in the country that were covered with little yellow butterflies. I drove slowly and there were clouds of them flying all around me. They fluttered and swirled around the car. It was hard not to stop and just sit there and watch them.

I wanted to invite this into my own yard so I could just sit and enjoy them. I found bags of seeds at the local hardware store and picked a spot to scatter them and so began the start of my weed patch dedicated to butterflies. I can’t tell a weed from a flower when its just starting to grow so I really don’t do anything but water and hope for the best. It makes for a low maintenance area in my yard but it is also not that attractive until the flowers bloom.

This year I am starting with some already blooming flowers and hoping it will make it a little more attractive patch in my yard while the seeds are sprouting. I try to include some seeds that are recommended to attract hummingbirds too. I have some feeders set out for them.

When planning a butterfly garden  pick a place in your yard where you can plant flowers that will provide food and some shelter for the butterflies. They will need sun to warm them and nectar to feed them. Pick a spot that has some shelter from the wind so they can relax and eat in peace.

You will have to do some research to find out what plants will be the best suited for your area. If you are on the monarch butterfly migration path , please consider planting milkweed to feed the caterpillars. They need it to survive and the population of these butterflies are dwindling. These butterflies migrate from central Mexico up into the United States and lay eggs along the way. The caterpillars need milkweed to survive and grow.

You should limit the amount of pesticides you use when trying to attract butterflies. I personally like to release large amounts of ladybugs to assist in controlling unwanted insects.

A Few Butterfly Facts

There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies in the world. About 725 species have occurred in North American north of Mexico, with about 575 of these occurring regularly in the lower 48 states of the United States, and with about 275 species occurring regularly in Canada. The North American Butterfly Association is a site with pictures of moths and butterflies in North America you can use to help you identify any butterflies that you may attract with your butterfly garden.

Butterflies make up an important part of the ecosystem. Not only are they pleasing to watch they are part of a healthy environment . They are an important part of the biodiversity on planet earth. They help pollinate and decorate our world.

I am sure you can attract some butterflies with just a little effort and an ability to tolerate a messy spot in your yard that people might think is just a weed patch.

Don’t let the butterflies disappear !

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