Whether you started your garden as a personal hobby, or you just wanted to beautify your yard, you aren’t the only one to benefit from it. Your hard work provides a warm welcome to pollinators like monarch butterflies who can take on some heavy lifting of their own. You can take no greater pleasure than seeing these beauties fluttering around your garden and taking some of the work off your shoulders.
Having caterpillars in your yard is actually a good thing! They feast on leaves, ridding them of any pests that aim to harm your plants, and assisting them with shedding their leaves at the end of the season. Caterpillars also have a taste for the generally unappealing weeds in your yard, meaning you’ll have fewer to pluck from the ground.
Later in their lifespan, butterflies work to pollinate your garden. While they aren’t nearly as effective or efficient as honey bees in the pollinating department, every little bit helps to keep your garden looking top notch!
Butterflies also assist with the natural order of things, which is a delicate way of saying birds eat them. With more butterflies in your garden, the more birds you’ll have stopping by, bringing even more life to your garden.
HOW TO CREATE A BUTTERFLY GARDEN
Butterflies need a few accommodations to attract them. Here are the simplest ways to make your garden a popular hangout for some new fluttery friends:
Butterflies need a little sunlight on them to get moving in the morning. Select a section of your yard that gets a lot of sunlight for them to receive their wake up call.
Nectar is a big draw for butterflies. They have long, tube-like tongues, and prefer plants they can reach into and “sip” from. When you’re selecting flowers, go with ones that are similarly tubular. Lilac, viburnum, and blueberries are great in the spring season. In summer, milkweed is a favorite among all species of butterfly, but you can also give bee balm, azaleas, and aptly-named butterfly bushes a go! The brighter the flower, the better.
Because butterflies don’t have great vision, they’re drawn to more densely planted gardens with larger, fuller foliage, and they’re more likely to lay their eggs in gardens with herbs and vegetables. For more delicate foliage that provides a little more ground cover, carrots and dill are great choices. You can err on the side of having a few weeds in your garden to help with coverage, and because caterpillars really do love something they can munch on.
MAKE A BUTTERFLY BAR
We kid, but your butterfly friends would be thankful for a water source that offers a place to rest and quench their thirst. Position a few stones into a shallow pool, and that will give butterflies a place to sit comfortably, grab a drink, and gather the sunlight they need to continue on with their day.
THE TYPES OF BUTTERFLIES
There are all kinds of species of butterflies, and each has its own personality. These are the most common varieties, along with some ways to attract them to your garden:
Monarch butterflies are the most popular, featuring wings of hot reds and oranges, with streaks of black and white spots. They’re hard to keep around, being nomadic in nature. The only way you’ll be able to keep these beauties around long-term is to breed them in your garden.
Milkweed is a monarch caterpillar’s favourite food. As they age, they never lose their taste for the plant, soaking in its nectar. Try planting a few different varieties of milkweed in your garden, and you’ll increase your chances of monarchs sticking around to breed.
Great Spangled Fritillaries feature yellowish-brown wings with black stripes and silver spots. You can’t really miss these guys since they’re pretty enormous in size. Violets are their favorite flower, and having a few in your yard will keep them coming back and breeding. They’re less picky than monarchs, feeding on nectars from milkweed, verbena, bergamot, and purple cornflower, among others!
Common Blues feature blues in their wings, along with silvers and fringed black and white borders. These striking butterflies make stops upon lotuses, lupines, and sweet clover. As they mature, they develop a taste for the nectar in daisies.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails show their namesake on their distinct patterns and colorings, featuring orange with black stripes. The females of this species are even more striking, displaying vibrant streaks of blue. They love the sweetness of lilac flowers, and of course, your go-to butterfly plant, milkweed.
With some sunlight, a bit of water for them splash around in, and a few particular floral selections, you’ll have a garden absolutely brimming with butterflies this season!