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Butterfly Gardens

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                   GardenGuides Newsletter 
                  Tuesday, May 22, 2007 

Plant your garden in full sun.
Plants, especially flowering plants, need sun to make 
food for themselves, and nectar for butterflies. 
Butterflies also need sun to warm their bodies for flight.

Plant butterfly-attracting flowers
Butterflies are attracted to flowers with strong scents 
and bright colors, where they drink sweet, energy-rich 
nectar. Select plants that are native to your area, and 
they will attract local butterflies.

Include host plants in your garden
Butterflies lay their eggs on host plants that the 
emerging caterpillars will eat. The sight of a butterfly 
emerging from a chrysalis will more than make up for the 
chewed leaves.

Use colorful plants
Butterflies see more colors than humans do. They seem to 
prefer red, orange, yellow, purple, and dark pink. A 
large, colorful garden is easy for butterflies to find, 
and encourages them to stay longer.

Don't use chemical pesticides
Pesticides kill butterflies, caterpillars, and other 
useful insects. Try these methods instead: Plant marigolds, 
petunias, mint, and other herbs that naturally repel pests. 
Encourage ladybugs and dragonflies to dine in your garden. 
Wash pests away with insecticidal soap.


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Butterfly gardens can be grown throughout the United States. 
There is a wide variety of both butterfly attracting (nectar) 
plants and host plants covering climate zones throughout the 

Butterfly gardens can range in size from a few containers 
placed in a sunny spot to several acres.


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Nectar-producing plants will attract butterflies to your 
garden. In order to support a full butterfly lifecycle, 
host plants (for laying eggs and use as a caterpillar food 
source) must also be present.

Throughout the country, the general requirements for 
butterfly gardening are the same: full sun, nectar source 
plants, larval host plants, a pesticide-free environment, 
and knowledge of the local butterfly fauna.

Many buttefly-attracting plants are natives and require 
little attention, as they are naturally adapted to the 
region in which they live.

Butterfly gardens are best planted in the spring with 
younger plants or in the fall with mature plants that 
will become dormant quickly and re-emerge in the spring. 
It is best not to plant in the heat of summer or the
cold of winter.

One of the most common mistakes in butterfly gardening 
is planting only one nectar source. Adult butterflies 
have a very short lifespan. Planting a variety of nectar 
sources will encourage more butterflies to visit the 
garden. Planting an adequate supply of host plants gives 
butterflies a place to lay their eggs, which will success-
fully hatch and result in butterflies that will continue 
to visit the garden.


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Butterflies typically lay their eggs in late spring and 
hatch 3-6 days after they are laid. It takes 3-4 weeks 
for a caterpillar to pupate and 9-14 days to emerge as 
an adult.

Good resources for learning more about butterfly gardening 
include zoos, botanical gardens, butterfly houses, garden 
centers and nurseries, libraries and the internet. There 
are many good websites dedicated to butterflies and butter-
fly gardening.	

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