Tips to turn your yard into a butterfly nursery
A butterfly nursery will help you feed the baby butterflies, a step too many butterfly-loving gardeners overlook. Of course, baby butterflies are not smaller versions of the winged, nectar-sipping adults; they are plant-eating, worm-like larvae commonly known as caterpillars.
Learn to be aware of their safe side.
Caterpillars have a bad reputation. As gardeners, we have a knee-jerk reaction to the sight of a caterpillar chewing holes in the leaves of our plants: we grab the pest spray.
It is true that holey leaves can make for an ugly specimen plant, and it is also true that some caterpillars are dangerous ecological pests (for instance, the invasive exotic gypsy moth caterpillar), but in most cases, caterpillar damage is only superficial.
Healthy garden plants do not die when a few caterpillars feed on them. Native plants are particularly well adapted to caterpillar use and will not suffer any long-term damage. So let the little leaf-munchers be, and plan to enjoy the soon to be hatched butterflies.
Remember that caterpillars attract birds.
Caterpillars are an important part of the food chain. Most birds are highly dependent on them as a food source for their babies in the spring and summer and later as a critical calorie source for fall migration.
Allowing caterpillars to go about their business will attract birds to your yard. Your feathered friends will do the dirty work of naturally removing excess larvae.
If you can put up with caterpillar damage and want to attract even more of them and their cute parents, plant the host plants they need to survive.
Most people think that planting lots of big, showy flowers will do the trick, but your goal is to give the butterflies a reason to lay their eggs in your yard. The most efficient way to do this is with caterpillar host plants.
Providing a nectar source is important, too, but some butterflies do not even feed as adults, and many don’t feed on flower nectar—they prefer sap, animal dung, or rotting fruit.
Plus, many of the garden plants have changed from their wild forms that butterflies cannot access the nectar in them.
Protection from Predators
Butterflies also need dense vegetation to escape the poor weather and to hide from predators.
A cluster of shrubs, a wildflower patch, or even a brush pile will meet this need nicely.
Some species enjoy sipping mineral-rich water from mud puddles, so consider leaving a muddy patch in the corner of the yard, or creating one by mixing compost and water in a birdbath.
We hope you find this tips helpful and you will make your garden even more attractive to butterflies. If you like this article please share with your friends and family.