Attracting Butterflies

Nothing is quite like watching butterflies frolic in your garden. These insects are a welcome addition to most gardens, and bring beauty and fun with their captivating colors. Attracting butterflies to your area is most effective with a few simple guidelines. Be sure to landscape with them in mind, and provide a consistent source of food, water, and shelter. Keeping your environment free of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals aids in them visiting the area. Also, when designing a butterfly habitat, you will want to provide a source of food for both caterpillars and butterflies.

Butterfly caterpillars enjoy the leaves of Asters, Milkweed, Snapdragons, Sunflowers, Violets, and Citrus. While the insects are eating the leaves of these fun plants, they will not cause any significant damage and will not move on to your prized roses or rhododendrons. Just keep in mind that without these caterpillars, the beautiful butterflies would not be possible.

Once the caterpillars emerge from their cocoons as butterflies, they become nectar feeders instead of leaf feeders. These insects enjoy the nectar of flowering plants such as Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium), Aster, Purple coneflower, Butterfly bush (Buddleia), and Liatris. For different food sources, offer butterflies a feeder filled with nectar, and add rotting fruit such as bananas and apples to it. Stale beer or molasses can be placed in shallow dishes for another way to attract them. Plant honeysuckle, clover, phlox, and wildflowers in the garden as well to expand their feeding options.

A water source is important for any species. As butterflies are smaller insects, they prefer a very shallow water source. Many species can be seen drinking from mud puddles, or congregating where the ground is damp and sunny. Placing a dish of damp sand in the ground creates a fantastic water source, and surrounding the dish with flat rocks which absorb sunlight offers butterflies a warm resting spot.

For shelter, butterflies usually hide in cracks and crevices, or between logs. The entrances of modern butterfly houses mimic these shapes, working with the insects' natural instincts. Placing a butterfly house in your garden creates a haven for the adult butterflies in inclement weather or at night. Caterpillars may also use the house for their developing chrysalis. For butterflies which overwinter in temperate regions, the home may also be used as a hibernaculum.

Inviting butterflies into your garden delights nature lovers of all ages. We have a large line of butterfly houses and feeders available in the Butterfly Houses & Feeders department.