By Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki's Queen of Green
All gardens are not created equal. Just ask a butterfly.
Creation and restoration of butterfly habitat offsets those destroyed by development, roadside mowing or wetland drainage. (Gardening pesticide-free helps, too.)
Whether you have a small plot in the city or a few acres, you can transform your yard into a butterfly garden!
What you'll need to attract butterflies
Choose native flowers and shrubs. Butterflies need nectar plants for food and host plants to lay their eggs.
- Tiger swallowtails choose nectar plants like lilacs or bee balm; nearby willow, alder, or apple trees can host larva.
- Painted ladies choose nectar plants like aster, cosmos or zinnia; host plants include thistle, mallow or hollyhock.
- Monarchs choose nectar plants like milkweed, lilac, goldenrod, black-eyed Susans and cosmos; host plants include the milkweed family.
To attract butterflies like the red admiral, tiger swallowtail and mourning cloak, you can also set up a nectar feeder using a solution of one part sugar to 18 parts water.
Did you know?
Sunny days are best for butterfly watching.
- Some butterflies live only a week, but the flight season for a species may be more than a month — and the migrating monarch "super generation" may live for several months.
- In B.C., butterfly season runs from March through October.
* Females are slightly larger than males — because she carries the eggs!
- Butterflies and hummingbirds share many nectar flowers, so efforts to lure one may have the bonus of attracting both.
Most butterflies only live a week. Make those few precious days count: plant a butterfly garden!