Butterflies are some of the most unique, beautiful insects in our ecosystem, and they play a vital role in the production of many of the foods we eat every day. The butterflies you see flitting around are not just pretty visitors—they are pollinators, and without their help, our food supply will be in trouble.

Creating a butterfly sanctuary in your yard is an easy way to extend a helping hand to your local butterfly population. Read on for four reasons to embark on this important project and to learn how to attract butterflies to your garden.

1. Butterflies help ensure the health of the world’s food supply. When we talk about pollinators, most people think of bees. That’s not inaccurate—bees are important pollinators, but butterflies are, too. Without bees and butterflies working together, flowering plants would not be fertilized and, therefore, would not bear fruit. This would affect the production of not just fruits and vegetables, but also coffee, chocolate, oils, and many nuts.

isolated butterfly on a flower2. Butterflies are an indicator species. There are several species of animals, insects, and other critters that are so sensitive to changes in the environment that they can be used by humans as a sort of living barometer of environmental health. If pesticides or other forms of pollution reach high levels, butterflies will leave the area in favor of healthier, more welcoming locales.

3. You’ll be doing your part to help preserve an important species of insect. While many people wouldn’t think twice about squishing a worm or other crawling critter, butterflies are different. Butterflies add beauty and whimsy to the landscape on top of their important roles in the ecosystem. Keeping the planet’s food supply in good shape is in everyone’s best interest, and carving out a special landing spot in your yard for butterflies represents your commitment to this common goal.

colorful flower bed4. Butterfly sanctuaries are pretty. Though it’s not a scientific reason to add a butterfly sanctuary to your yard, aesthetic appeal is important. Butterflies are attracted to a wide variety of nectar-producing plants and flowers, including milkweed, lilacs, goldenrod, aster, daylilies, and cornflowers. When selecting plants for your sanctuary, remember that the flowers that attract butterflies the most are brightly colored, so look for blooms in shades of red, orange, and yellow. Add a shallow water source and taller plants that will block the wind to encourage butterflies not only to visit your yard but to stay a little while, too. Try to plant your butterfly sanctuary in a sunny spot in your yard because butterflies love to bask in the sun’s rays to warm up their wings.

As you make plans for your spring and summer garden, consider adding colorful plants that are butterfly friendly. Your yard will benefit from the pop of color, and you’ll be taking necessary steps toward helping these beautiful, beneficial insects thrive.

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