Attracting Butterflies To Your Garden

Butterfly red admiral

We do not simply want to attract butterflies to our gardens because they look pretty. They also help increase the biodiversity of the space, helping to keep it more resilient. What is more, butterflies help in our attempts to grow food because they play an important role in pollinating our plants. Though there are a couple of species of moth and butterfly (lepidoptera) that can eat our crops in their caterpillar phase, most will do no damage and will only be beneficial in our gardens.

red admiral caterpillarIn your planting and when creating habitat for butterflies, it is important to remember that in order to enjoy butterflies in your garden, you will also have to cater for caterpillars and make sure that these creatures have food and shelter throughout their full life cycle. Caterpillars will usually eat leaves, while adult butterflies drink nectar. Some lepidoptera have specific dietary requirements, while others will munch more widely.

Butterfly buddleiaFor adult butterflies, flowers are crucial. A collection of local native wildflowers will be perfect for them, while any colourful floral display will act as a magnet for passing species. Be sure to plant native species and avoid any invasive flora. You can ensure that your beds or borders are butterfly friendly by clumping flowers together in groups with the same colour rather than scattering around individual plants. Bold swathes of blooms will keep butterflies happy. Butterflies are particularly attracted to blue, yellow and red, though a wide range of different colours can be attractive. The shape of flowers is also important. Simple, flat, single flowers will be better for butterflies, who will find it easier to extract the nectar from such blooms.Butterfly bushes, or buddleia, are great at attracting butterflies to your garden.

Butterfly waterClose to butterfly friendly planting, you can also help out the butterflies in your garden by providing some moisture. Butterflies love sun and shelter from strong winds and yet they also need some water – something not always easy to come by in sunny spots. You can help them by making a few shallow depressions in the soil and periodically fill these up with water. Butterflies may gather (sometimes en mass) to such the water up from the soil in these spots. It can also help to give butterflies a few flattish rocks to sun themselves on close to food and water sources.

Finally, to attract butterflies to your garden and to conserve native butterfly species, it is essential to grow organically. Organic gardening, free of chemicals, will help ensure the safety and health of these creatures that are such a valuable part of our permaculture garden systems.