Saturday, October 25, 2008

How To Keep Butterflies Around Longer In Your Gardens


By: Louanne Baelde

In order to keep butterflies in your gardens longer, you need to provide the right habitat for them to stay.

Butterflies have different life stages which need certain foods to survive. For example, some eat carrot, dill and parsley, cabbage, sunflower, clover and alfalfa. Some shrubs such as lilacs and certain trees like birch, ash, oak, willow and elms also provide larval food.

Nectar plants not only provide food for the butterflies, but also provide cover. Nectar plants include important vitamins needed from the plant food to grow and survive. Without the nectar from the plant food, they will most likely move elsewhere. Flowering plants not only provide important nectar and vitamins, but also supply cover. Butterflies also need a place to lay their eggs. Later fall flowers do not have the amount of nectar that earlier spring or summer flowers have, so by providing many more flowers at their convenience at this time of the year, will allow them to remain in your landscaping much longer. Keep in mind that this does not mean that double flowers will attract more butterflies. Double flowers often have less nectar than single flowers and access to the nectar is much deeper and more difficult for the smaller species.

Flowers that have many flower clusters such as the phlox, black-eyed susans, blazing stars and zinnias not only provide nectar, but provide a great landing place for the larger butterflies. Larger butterflies live longer than smaller ones. Small butterflies live only about a week or two, while larger butterflies such as the Monarch may live for up to nine months!

Remember, just like other things in life, it’s not the size that will determine the quantity or quality. Many herbs that are grown in the garden have tiny little flowers, but have really high amount of nectar.

Butterflies will often sleep at night under large leafs or in rock crevices. So be sure to have other larger leaf foliage and rock gardens as well to keep them safe and comfortable.

If you keep your garden well-fertilized, you are most likely to have healthy plants, which in turn will make much more pleasant surroundings for your beautiful flying friends.

Don’t forget that butterflies are near-sighted, so have lots of larger bunches of flowers, even many groups of different colors of flowers, so that the butterflies may find them. Also, try cutting some of the stems back a little in the spring, to produce more flowers.

There are around 20,000 different butterfly species in the world. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep a few for a longer period of time in your area?

Louanne welcomes you to visit for a large data base of extremely helpful gardening articles, gardening videos and gardening resources.

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