Butterflies are not only beautiful, delicate creatures but they also play an important role in pollination and the overall health of our ecosystem. Unfortunately, many butterfly species are in decline due to habitat loss through farming, climate change, and pesticide use. However, you can do your part to help them thrive by creating a butterfly-friendly garden at home. If you are creating a garden in your new build home, this is a perfect opportunity to give a little thought about how you might also support our little butterfly friends.
In this article, we will provide some tips on how to create a garden that will attract and support butterflies.
Choose the right plants
Butterflies need nectar-rich flowers for food and host plants for laying eggs and feeding caterpillars. When selecting plants for your garden, choose a variety of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year to provide a continuous source of nectar. Some great choices for nectar plants include coneflowers, milkweed, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, zinnias, and butterfly bush.
Different butterfly species have different host plant preferences, so do some research on which ones are common in your area. For example, monarch butterflies rely on milkweed plants, while swallowtails prefer parsley and dill.
Butterflies need shelter to rest and escape from predators. You can provide this by planting tall grasses, shrubs, or even a butterfly house.
A butterfly house is a small box with slots that butterflies can use to enter and exit. It provides a safe, warm place for them to spend the night or during inclement weather.
Pesticides can be harmful to butterflies and their caterpillars. Instead of using chemicals, opt for natural pest control methods like companion planting, handpicking pests, and using insecticidal soaps. If you must use pesticides, choose ones that are labelled as safe for butterflies and apply them in the early morning or late evening when butterflies are less active. You may also try introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings as a means of pest control.
Butterflies need water to drink and also to hydrate their eggs. Provide a shallow dish or birdbath with rocks or pebbles for butterflies to rest on while they drink. Make sure to keep the water clean and fresh to prevent the spread of disease.
Maintain your garden
A well-maintained garden is essential for attracting butterflies. Keep your garden tidy by removing dead plants and weeds, and pruning shrubs when necessary. Additionally, avoid using synthetic fertilizers, and always seek out which can harm both butterflies and the environment.
Creating a butterfly-friendly garden is an easy and rewarding way to help these essential pollinators thrive. By providing the right plants, shelter, water, and avoiding pesticides, you can create a haven for butterflies in your own back garden. So, roll up your sleeves and get started on your butterfly garden today!
Butterfly Education and Awareness Day (BEAD) is the first Saturday in June of each year. It is promoted by The Association for Butterflies, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the welfare of butterflies through conservation, research, education, and support to professional butterfly farmers.