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Butterfly and Caterpillar Gardening and Environment

Remember when keeping an acquarium was a simple matter of filling an aerated tank with water...letting it set for a day, and then adding your favorite fish? Or capturing caterpillars and watching them turn into butterflies in a big jar stocked with lots of their favorite leaves? We are learning a lot more details about how nature works...and doesn't work.

Wildlife Gardening

The simple summer flutter of butterflies is another such simple pleasure that is gathering a whole scientific body of knowledge. No more simple caterpillars marching across the sidewalk to get to the garden on the other side. No more butterfly nets to catch summer's fluttering of wings.

Butterflies are becoming scarce...and people are beginning to garden specifically to help preserve these delicate foragers of our flower gardens and fields.

Summer is a good time to observe the butterfly game...and make plans for adding a few favorite plants for next year's migration of summer color.

Here's how to choose plants for both butterflies and caterpillars...even how to make a nectar feeder for butterflies that visit your backyard.

A few of the tips for butterfly gardening include:

  • Select a variety of nectar-producing plants with the aim of providing flowers in bloom throughout the season. This will entice a continuous succession of new visitors to a yard.

  • It is especially important to have flowers in mid to late summer, when most butterflies are active. Flowers with multiple florets that produce abundant nectar are ideal.

  • Annuals are wonderful butterfly plants because they bloom continuously through the season, providing a steady supply of nectar.

  • Perennial plants, such as coneflowers, lilac, butterfly weed, and asters, are visited regularly by butterflies. Most plants in the mint family are also good nectar sources for butterflies. Avoid double flowers because they are often bred for showiness, not nectar production.

  • For successful butterfly gardening, provide food for more than the adult butterflies. Provide for their caterpillar forms as well. Butterfly caterpillars have a limited host range. Most caterpillars feed on leaves; although some develop on the reproductive parts of flowers or seeds.

  • Some supposedly good butterfly plants might not attract butterflies in your garden. It may be that a particular plant is not the preferred larval food of your local butterflies.

One thing is becoming very apparent. Nature is very local! Native plants host native wildlife. Native wildlife provide pollination services for local plants. See how that works together ?

Have a light hearted romp in your backyard as you watch caterpillars munch their way into your heart...and follow their mysterious pathway into the sky. Remember...take a nature break to speed you on your own mysterious pathway to the stars!


Butterflies are the "flowers of the air"...poetry in motion, and a wonder of summer's sunny days.


But butterfly life stages tell us more about the ecosystem. Larvae -- caterpillars -- are the major "protein converters" by turning cellulose (leaves) into protein (delicious caterpillars for the birds!).


How can you protect and nurture butterflies? Learn which local species need more habitat...and then choose to include a few of those plants in your flower or vegetable gardens. And think about how you can reduce your use of pesticides and fertilizers...they're not too good for wildlife.


What WILL you do today to move toward your goal? Even one small action today makes a difference. And you can add a little tomorrow and the next day... Together we will restore our environment in our community and around the world.

For more articles about WILDLIFE GARDENING

Garden Decor: Aquascaping for Beauty and Purpose
Butterfly & Caterpillar Gardening and the Environment
Water Gardening is the New Frontier
Rocky Sloped for Habitat
Mailorder Gardening for Wildlife Friendly seeds and plants
Butterflies are Flowers of the Air