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Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly Gardening

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Published by msblsports
Few things are more enchanting than a garden filled with fluttering butterflies. They bring out the delighted child in each of us as they shimmer in the sunlight. Asking very little, they give us an unsurpassed gift of symmetry, beauty, and delicacy.
Few things are more enchanting than a garden filled with fluttering butterflies. They bring out the delighted child in each of us as they shimmer in the sunlight. Asking very little, they give us an unsurpassed gift of symmetry, beauty, and delicacy.

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Published by: msblsports on Jan 21, 2012
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10/10/2013

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Page 1A Plant's Home
©
WindStar Wildlife Institute
For more nature habitat informationVisit these helpful websites:
 A Plant's Home A Bird's Home A Homesteader's Home
ButterflyGardening
 Few things are more enchanting than a garden filled with fluttering butterflies. They bring out the delighted child in each of us as they shimmer in the sunlight. Asking verylittle, they give us an unsurpassed gift of  symmetry, beauty, and delicacy.
E
njoying their performance,we don't always realize that,if we want to have a largenumber of adult butterflies, wehave to think about providinghabitat needs for their wholelife cycle.At the same time, we will bemaking a contribution to theconservation movement, as wellas bringing life and sparklingbeauty to our homes.To quote Robert Pyle,
“ 
 I am very concerned about what I call the extinction of experience
 – 
the loss of everyday species within our ownradius of reach. When we losethe common wildlife in our immediate surroundings, we runthe risk of becoming inured tonature
’ 
s absence, blind todelight, and, eventually,alienated from the land."
By planting a butterfly gardentoday, we are insuring ourcontinued involvement withnature tomorrow.There are a variety of theoriesabout where butterflies gottheir name. One of the mostcharming proposes that itbegan in England when peoplesaw the woodlands alight withyellow brimstones andcompared them to
butterflying."However they came to benamed, early naturalistscertainly had no idea thatcaterpillars and butterflies weredifferent stages of the same
 
Page 2A Plant's Home
©
WindStar Wildlife Institute
creature. For many centuries, itwas accepted that caterpillarsarose from the morning dew onleaves. Even with our modernknowledge, the transformationfrom caterpillar to butterflycertainly seems miraculous.There are many guidebooks tohelp you identify the differentbutterflies, and most will includea discussion of their life cycle.
Four Stages
Briefly, there are four stages,each very different from theothers.
s
The butterfly begins as anegg, hatching in 5 to 10days.
s
The resulting caterpillardoes nothing much excepteat and grow, shedding itsskin four to six times.
s
In two to four weeks it willform a pupa which, within itschrysalis, or cocoon, takeson the body of the adult.
s
The butterfly emerges in 10to 15 days and, aftermating, the cycle beginsagain.The whole process is known as
metamorphosis," or, literally,
change of form."
Loss of Habitat
As our appreciation of theselovely creatures grows, so doesour realization that butterflies,like so many other species, aresuffering a declining populationdue to loss of habitat and theincreased use of insecticidesand other pollutants.While killing and mountingthem may have someimportance for scientificstudies, the rest of us benefitfar more by observing them inthe garden and collectingthem only throughphotographs.We can identify manyvarieties, even in an area assmall as a window box, and themore we learn, the morefascinating they become.
40 Million Years
For instance, they originatedabout 40 million years ago,when flowering plants werebeginning to proliferate. Theirproboscis, the long, hollowfeeding tube, remains coiled upbeneath the head when not inuse.Some species preferfermenting fruit or tree sap tonectar. The female will drumand scratch a leaf with herfeet to release chemicals thattell her that it is a suitableplace to lay her eggs.Bright color often warnspredators that a butterflytastes bad. Learning aboutbutterflies can be a treat forthe whole family. As E.O.Wilson wrote,
“ 
Splendor awaitsin minute proportions."
Before you start plantingyour garden, explore your yardand nearby areas. What speciesdo you see and which ones doyou want to attract. Whatplants do those prefer fornectar and larval food. Do youwant a garden exclusivelydesigned for butterflies, or doyou prefer to incorporateappropriate plants into anexisting bed. Is your gardeningstyle formal or casual. Howmuch time can you contributeto maintenance.
Ask These Questions
By asking yourself thesequestions, you can save a lot of time later on. You can design alarge garden, or you may decideto start on a very small scale,with just a few selected plants,and add more each year.One of the firstconsiderations when planningyour garden is location. Choosea sunny area, not only becausemost butterfly-attractingflowers grow best in full sun, butbecause the butterfliesthemselves only fly when thereis sun to keep their bodieswarm.On cloudy days they may notfly at all. Often the best time toget a photograph is when thetemperature is cooler, while theyare basking in the sun until theyhave warmed to flighttemperature.Sunny garden spots enablebutterflies to feed earlier and
 
Page 3A Plant's Home
©
WindStar Wildlife Institute
later in the day and to takeenough time to find suitableegg-laying spots, as well asdecreasing the time it takes foreggs and caterpillars to develop.Flat rocks and evergreensadded to your garden will absorbthe sun
s warmth, andbutterflies will enjoy basking onthe stones to raise their bodytemperature more quickly.
Water is Critical
As with all wildlife, water isessential. You can create a mudpuddle in a corner of the garden,or sink a bowl in the ground andfill it with wet sand. Mud andsand are sources of nutrients,and sometimes you will see abunch of male butterfliescongregating at mud puddleareas after the water hasevaporated, eating salt andother concentrated minerals.It is also helpful if thebutterfly garden can beprotected from the wind. Thiswill keep the temperature higher,and reduce the effort requiredto fight air currents as thebutterflies feed. Taller flowersalso benefit because they won
tbe blown over, and many plantswill warm up and bloom at anearlier date.
Protect From Wind
The wind can be broken by aline of shrubs, a fence, or a wall.For those that overwinter, thereare commercial butterflyhibernation boxes, or you canprovide nearby trees withcrevices, or create a log pile.Although we may beattracted to the nectar-producing flowers because of their striking beauty, it isimportant not to neglect hostplants. These are often nativeplants, and will lure femalebutterflies in to lay eggs, thenprovide food for thecaterpillars.
Host Plants
Some species will search outand accept only one or twokinds of host plants, and infact some caterpillars will
Plants for the Butterfly Garden
This list is by no means complete, but will give you a good startin selecting plants for your garden. Your local nurseries will be ableto tell you which ones will do best in your area, and may offeradditional selections. Those with an asterisk (*) are especiallyeffective in attracting butterflies.
SHRUBS: *Butterfly bush .................................... (Buddleia)
*Buttonbush ................................. (Cephalanthus occidentalis)Glossy abelia ................................ (Abelia x GrandifloraMountain laurelLilac ................................................. (Syringa vulgaris)Sweet pepperbush ....................... (Clethra arborea)Flame azalea ................................. (Rhododendron spp.)Mountain laurel ............................ (Kalmia)Honeysuckle shrub ...................... (Lonicera tatarica)Bluebeard ....................................... (Caryopteris x clandonensis)Privet ............................................... (Ligustrum)
PERENNIALS: *Joe-Pye weed .............................. (Eupatorium spp.)
*Purple Coneflower....................... (Echinacea purpurea)*Anise Hyssop .............................. (Hyssopus officinalis)*New England aster .................... (Aster spp.)*Butterfly weed ............................ (Asclepias tuberosa)*Black-eyed Susan ...................... (Rudbeckia spp.)Coreopsis ....................................... (Coreopsis spp.)Veronica .......................................... (Veronica spp.)Verbena ........................................... (Verbena canadensis)
ANNUALS: *Lantana ........................................ (Lantana camara)
*Pentas ........................................... (Pentas lanciolata)*Cosmos ......................................... (Cosmos sulphureus)Heliotrope ...................................... (Heliotrope arborescens)Mexican sunflower ....................... (Tithonia rotundifolia)Flowering tobacco ....................... (Nicotiana alata)Pincushion flower ......................... (Scabiosa atropurpurea)French marigold ........................... (Targetes patula)Impatiens ....................................... (Impatiens wallerana)Zinnia ............................................... (Zinnia elegans)

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