Since moving to Fayetteville, I’ve been working to attract butterflies to my garden. I’m happy to report, my game plan is working. I have lots of little white cabbage butterflies, and earlier in the spring I noticed a giant swallowtail caterpillar. The swallowtail recently made her appearance.
Here’s another beauty. Butterflies are fast, and my camera is not.
I saw our first monarch, too! (Sorry, blurry. Sneaking up on a butterfly is tricky business.)
We basically started with a bare sunny spot off the back of the porch and a very sunny front yard. I’m pleased at the progress we’ve made in only one spring season and half of our first summer.
Here are a few simple tips that have helped me attract butterflies to my garden.
1. Grow flowering, native plants. Butterflies prefer native plants so be sure to incorporate a few natives in your garden. According to Audubon Arkansas, flowers native to our state include asters, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, blanketflower, butterfly weed, cardinal flower, cornflower, coreopsis, gay feather, indigo, Joe Pye weed, milkweed, phlox, and sunflower. (The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, maintains a list of native plants by state. Click HERE to view.)
2. Bright Colors and tight blossoms are key. Butterflies are attracted to most any bright color especially red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple. They can see colors we can’t see and communicate using ultraviolet light. Blossoms clustered tightly together make it easier for them to get to the nectar.
3. Give them Sun and Water. Adult butterflies prefer to feed in the sun and love to sunbathe on flat open spaces. And while it may seem strange to worry about providing water for your butterflies, they do need a water source. They will drink water from puddles that form on your walkways and water that pools on leaves and plants. Of course, a little goes a long way. Morning dew and water from your regular garden watering routine are typically sufficient, but still, this is something to keep in mind during the long hot summer.
4. Stagger Blooms. Choose plants so that when one early summer blooming plant has fizzled out, another is just beginning to bloom. Curious what to plant? Take a look at this article from Westwood Gardens about butterfly plants for Northwest Arkansas.
5. Avoid Insecticides. Avoiding insecticides is the safest policy for bees, birds and butterflies.
Here’s a shot of my huge Swallowtail caterpillar. They love to feed on dill, so I let mine go to seed. The seed heads are pretty too.
Grace Grits and Gardening ✿
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
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Mindy Gledhill, I Take Flight