- Create a wind barrier. Cassia, citrus, birch, sumac, privet, cherries, and plums are among the trees that are nectar and host plants for a wide range of butterflies.
- Butterflies are nearsighted, plant large groups of flowering plants that butterflies can see from a distance.
- Daisy-like flowers, including asters, blanket flowers, coreopsis, cosmos, coneflowers, black eyed Susan’s, and zinnias are all butterfly favorites.
- Butterflies need water for salt and valuable trace nutrients. Add rocks to a birdbath so butterflies can drink without getting wet.
- Set out a large flat rock in a sunny area where butterflies can warm-up on cooler mornings.
- Attract humming birds and butterflies with tubular and trumpet-shaped flowers like hibiscus and daylilies, and phlox.
- Adult monarchs use milkweeds as nectar plants and host plants. There are over 100 types of milkweed that will attract monarchs, from wild milkweed to showier types, with purple, orange, or red flowers. Milkweeds contain a chemical that protects monarch caterpillars by giving them a bad taste.
- Swallowtail butterflies prefer plants in the umbel family for larval hosts. These include parsley, dill, carrots, and fennel. Swallowtails will also use citrus plants.
- Herbicides and pesticides can be harmful to butterfly larvae. Avoid using pesticides like Bt that target caterpillars specifically.
- Bigger caterpillars make bigger butterflies. Caterpillars are voracious eating machines, capable of eating the leaves off of an entire plant.
Additional Tips for Building an Awesome Butterfly Garden
Adding flowering nectar plants is a great way to attract beautiful butterflies to your yard. A lot of properties are visited by butterflies that are just passing through. Planting a large mass of colorful nectar plants encourages butterflies to stay longer, instead of quickly passing by looking for a better habitat that provides what butterflies instinctively need. A butterfly’s main mission is to mate and lay eggs on appropriate host plants, while sustaining themselves on flower nectar and water from small puddles. Butterflies generally produce four or five generations of adults a season. These adults generally live between two to six weeks, but the last generation will return to Mexico for the winter. Monarchs are famous for their yearly migration, but almost all butterflies move south to warmer areas. In the last months of summer, as the days get shorter, all the nectar that the butterflies eat is converted into fats that are stored on the butterfly’s body. During the cooler, shorter days of winter the reproductive systems of males and females go dormant, until they are reawakened in the spring. This rest period conserves energy allowing the butterflies to survive for many months longer then they would normally. Early-blooming nectar plants are especially crucial in the spring when butterflies leave their wintering-grounds, racing to mate and lay eggs before they are programmed to die. Butterflies are very picky about which host plants they will lay eggs on. Most butterflies have one preferred group of plants they will use. Under normal circumstances female monarchs will only deposit their eggs on milkweed plants, if milkweed is not found the female will most likely die without laying any eggs. This is why it is so important to provide host and nectar plants that are attractive to butterflies.