How to Plant a Butterfly Garden


A butterfly garden is a lovely way to add color and life to your property while simultaneously providing a habitat for these graceful insects. Plant a butterfly garden with children to help instill a love and respect for nature, or simply to add a greater variety of plants and flowers to your gardens.

Adult butterflies and moths have mouths similar to long, coiled tubes. This limits their food intake to liquids, which naturally includes nectar. Caterpillars, or butterfly larvae, have mouths that allow them to chew and skeletonize leaves. Butterflies lay eggs in groups or one at a time depending on the species. From the eggs tiny caterpillars emerge, who molt or shed their skin about five times before transforming into pupa. Adult butterflies emerge from the pupa after four days to two weeks. Some species stay in the pupa stage for years!

As with most insects, butterflies are nearsighted. Their eyes are large and compound, allowing them to see in all directions without moving their heads. Because they are nearsighted, they flock to large concentrations of attractive plants rather than stand-alone flowers. They can also see polarized light, which lets them know which direction the sun is pointing, and ultraviolet light. This type of light is found on many plants and helps butterflies find nectar. Club-shaped antennae is another feature, which helps differentiate them from moths, who have feathery antennae. Butterfly antennae also equips the insects with a keen sense of smell.

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