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Beyond the Butterfly Bush: 5 Ways to Attract Butterflies to Your YardFebruary 9th, 2015 by
Butterflies are known for being colorful and pretty, but they can contribute much more to your garden than just their beauty. You’ve probably heard of butterfly bushes, but there are additional ways to make your yard more attractive to butterflies, which will culminate in healthier plants due to the butterflies’ pollination.
Choose the Right Colors
Red, orange, yellow, purple, and pink are the best colors to pick when it comes to flowering plants that attract butterflies. While that still leaves a wealth of options, you can narrow down your selection by researching what types of butterflies are most common in your area and what kinds of nectar they are most partial to. There are over 700 species of butterflies in the United States, and they all have their own unique sets of preferences.
Create a Home for the Butterflies
If you want your garden to receive continuous butterfly pollination, you need to make your yard a good habitat for each stage of their life. Remember that butterflies start out as caterpillars, so you’ll want to populate your yard with plants that cater to caterpillars as well. Additionally, butterflies like to perch on the flowers they feed from, so choose flowering plants that provide a large enough stable place for the butterfly to land on. Don’t forget water, either; butterflies need to stay hydrated, and they most enjoy “puddling,” which refers to their drinking from a very shallow, sandy puddle. They benefit from the intake of sodium and other nutrients from sandy water.
Nourish Them Consistently
Set up your plants so that there is consistent blooming. When one goes out of season, the next one should already be blooming so that there is always a source of nectar for the butterflies. If you stop providing a source of food, they’ll stop coming. Put the butterfly-attracting plants in areas that receive a lot of sunlight because butterflies only feed in the sun—they use the heat to keep their muscles warmed up. It’s also helpful to remember that flowers that attract butterflies often have short flower tubes. Longer tubes can be more difficult for the butterflies to get nectar from, causing them to abandon them in search of easier food.
Choose flowering plants that are native to your region. They will be most likely to thrive in your environment because they are already adapted to the climate and soil. Likewise, the butterflies in your area will have evolved over time to be familiar with native plants and are more likely to be nourished by their nectar.
If All Else Fails, Try an Artificial Approach
If the flowers in your garden aren’t too successful at attracting butterflies, try using bright, colorful butterfly feeders that are stocked with commercial nectar. These can help provide nutrients to the butterflies that will supplement the ones in your garden. The combination of nectar offerings might do the trick in getting the butterflies to stick around.
Since butterflies are as useful as they are beautiful, it’s worth thinking about what you can do to entice them to your yard. With a few easy additions to your garden, you can build the butterflies a home, and in turn, they can help keep your plants thriving.
Sources: Better Homes and Gardens; HGTV; National Wildlife Federation; Purdue University.
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