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Gardening for Nature

Different species of butterflies have different preferences in plants.

How to attract butterflies to your garden

But a wide variety of plants should attract at least a few visitors. Understanding the Life of a Butterfly: Butterflies start life as eggs laid on plants. These eggs hatch into very tiny caterpillars, or larva, which start eating immediately.

Unlike adult butterflies which feed on nectar, caterpillars prefer the leaves of plants. At this stage, the butterfly is capable of defoliating your butterfly garden. The caterpillars must molt, or crawl out of their skins several times before changing into a chrysalis, their pupa stage. An adult butterfly emerges from the pupa and flies off in search of food and host plants for laying its own eggs.

This type of development is known as complete metamorphosis. Some favorite butterfly nectar plants include asters, azalea, bee balm, blueberry, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, coneflower, goldenrod, Impatiens, Joe-Pye weed , lilac, marigolds, verbena and yarrow.

5 techniques for backyard gardeners

Bright colors seem to attract more butterflies, but more importantly, large swaths of color will make it easier for them to find your garden. Use insecticides sparingly if you hope to attract butterflies. Find out how to make butterflies feel more at home in your garden. A flat rock is often included in butterfly gardens for this purpose.

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden - Alexandria Living Magazine

Shelter : Butterflies require a sheltered location to rest and to seek protection from bad weather. During the night they roost, often on the underside of a leaf. Puddles : Sometimes you will see a crowd of butterflies around a puddle. This is known as puddling and it is thought that butterflies are attracted to puddles because they contain dissolved minerals which butterflies need to supplement their diet. They look for places such as loose bark, log piles or even buildings. Often these boxes are referred to as butterfly houses, but they are actually meant as shelters in which certain butterfly species will overwinter.

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Or will they? There are simply too many other places for butterflies to choose, most more natural looking than a man-made hibernating box.

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However, it is not unheard of for the occasional butterfly to move in. These are hibernating boxes, not homes or shelters. Dingy Skipper. Green-veined White. Holly Blue. Holly Ilex aquifolium , Ivy Hedera helix. Large Skipper. Cock's-foot Dactylus glomerate , False Brome Brachypodium sylvaticum. Large White. Meadow Brown.

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Painted Lady. Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica.

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Red Admiral. Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica , Hop Humulus lupulus.

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Small Copper. Small Skipper. Yorkshire-fog Holcus lanatus. Small Tortoiseshell.

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