Butterfly Do's and Don'ts
Butterfly Garden Do’s and Don’ts
Do- Include plants in the garden for both adult and larval butterflies. Adults want plants that produce nectar to feed on. Larvae eat the plants themselves. Most “host plants” (plants to host the larvae) are specific to a particular butterfly, so don’t pick just one.
Do- Set up feeding stations , especially in summer when blooms may be scarce. A feeding station is a simple dish with some old fruit (apples, bananas, mango, etc…). These can be made into a “smoothie” by blending with some brown sugar and a shot of beer or yeast. Place the station up off the ground to discourage ants and away from the house, as it will likely also attract bees.
Do- Provide water for the butterflies. A simple mud puddle will suffice, but a butterfly water station can be created with a dish filled with small stones or coarse sand. Do NOT fill the dish too full. The butterflies prefer to land on a “dry” spot and stick their tongue into the wet substance to drink. Butterflies can drown in a water dish.
Do- Create a habitat attractive to the butterflies. Lots of bright colors and sun are what they crave. Little areas to hide from predators are also welcoming. Group brightly flowered plants together to act as a beacon to attract more butterflies to the garden.
Don’t- Use insecticides, even organic and especially BT, in the butterfly garden. Butterflies are very sensitive to all types of insecticides. BT is a very safe product for people and pets, but very deadly to caterpillars. Try using a strong stream of water to blast off pests in the butterfly garden. Some pest can be manually removed with a cloth. If all else fails, simply remove the badly infested plant so that pests don’t spread.
Don’t- Let Fireants go unchecked. Fireants can be deadly, especially to caterpillars. Organic baits, such as Conserve, are safe to use near the butterfly garden.
Don’t- Overhead irrigate the butterfly garden. Watering from overhead can dilute precious nectar in flowers. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses work very well and keep the flowers dry.
Don’t- Be too neat. Leaf litter, sticks, and other small debris are important to nearly all stages of a butterfly’s life. They are used for hiding, building chrysalis, and laying eggs.
Don’t-Incorporate a bird bath into the butterfly garden. The bath may attract not only seed eating birds, but also caterpillar eating birds.