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Building Your Butterfly Garden
Creepy, crawly bugs are a part of any garden that you’ve planted outside – whether in the ground, strawbales, or raised beds. Some of these bugs are a nuisance and can hurt your plants, others are there to eat the nuisance bugs, but others enjoy the buds and blossoms, enjoying the pollen and nectar and pollinating your vegetables as they swoop and float between the leaves. Building a butterfly garden can beautify a small section of your landscape or encourage the pollinators to visit your veggies but lay their eggs somewhere else.
We’ve put together a list of the garden items to attract butterflies, such as butterfly feeders, as well as tips on making your butterfly garden a refuge for these delicate pollinators.
Building A Butterfly Garden
The Right Butterfly Garden Items:
Large, Flat-top Rocks: In cool mornings and evenings, you want to provide butterflies with large rocks to rest on. Rocks hold in the heat from the whole day – sometimes for hours. In the morning, it will also heat quickly if out in the sunlight. Butterflies will use these spaces to heat up, stay warm, and rest during the day.
Water Supply: Butterflies can’t take advantage of running water, and asking them to use a birdbath or the edge of your pond can be dangerous for them. The best way to provide water for butterflies is to take a birdbath basin and fill it with water and damp sand. Mound the sand towards the middle a little and regularly add water.
TIP: If you want to build a more picturesque waterer for butterflies, fill a birdbath basin with marbles or river stones. The goal is to give the butterflies a surface to stand on so they can safely drink.
Regardless of what watering method you use, you want to make sure that you have waterers at different levels. A regular birdbath height waterer, something more around knee height, and then a nice mud-hole level waterer on the ground. This way, you’re providing water for the butterflies and their many different types of caterpillars to take a drink.
TIP: Have waterers and feeders in different areas of the garden; some in full sun and some that cycle through shade. While all butterflies need warmth to get moving, some of them prefer the shade, especially during the heat of the day.
Butterfly House: This is a small house, similar to a birdhouse, but with long thin vertical holes cut into the front for butterflies to walk through. This is a totally optional garden item to attract butterflies; your butterflies will happily settle in your bushes and plants. However, they are a cute addition to a butterfly garden, especially if you pair it with mason bee housing.
TIP: Put your butterfly house near your warming rocks, that way your butterflies can always make it from one location to the other even when they’re low on energy.
Nectar Feeders: These are very similar to the hummingbird feeders; in fact, this variety works for both. You fill them with sugar water, the butterflies land on them, and they drink from the little spouts. They’re totally optional but a great choice if you have limited space for lots of favorite flowers.
Fruit Feeders: Did you know that butterflies love rotting fruit? Especially over-ripe bananas. These fruit feeders act as a cage-style support for the fruit. The butterflies can land on the fruit or the thick wire. They can enjoy a good meal before flitting away.
TIP: Both types of feeders must be cleaned regularly as they can draw pests and even disease. Plus, regularly checking feeders prevents potential predators such as mantises and spiders from being able to sneak up on your unsuspecting flutterers.