There is one thing that we all can agree upon and that is, butterflies are the prettiest creatures on this earth. The range of colours they display are so vibrant and eye catching that we can barely miss a butterfly flying by. And what if I could tell you that you can actually create a place which attracts these insects. Yes by the way, butterfly are insects but unlike the creepy crawlies, we all love them!
Our country is blessed with enormous biodiversity and even in metro cities you can spot a butterfly in a garden or near some trees. So don’t worry, even if you live in some polluted areas or big cities, you can still enjoy the view of butterflies in your backyard.
Life cycle of a butterfly
Before learning about how to attract them, let us learn a little about the various stages of butterflies and they turn into such a magnificent creature.
- First of all, an adult butterfly lay eggs on leaves of plants.
- After a few days these eggs hatch into larvae.
- These larvae are then converted into young caterpillars. The caterpillars feed onto host plant leaves and grow enormously in size. It’s like they feast 24 x 7 onto the host plants and gain weight by the minute.
- Then comes the resting period. In this stage, the caterpillars turn into pupa. It would be kind of an injustice to call this as a resting period cause a lot is happening inside that tiny packet.
- After 14 to 21 days, a beautiful, astonishing butterfly will emerge out of the pupa.
- So basically, you need provide a place for the adult butterflies to feed and to lay eggs, a place where larvae and caterpillars can feed and transform. This will keep the cycle going and your garden will never run out of butterflies!
Step 1: Location
The place where you are deciding to establish your butterfly garden is going to matter the most. Try to find a location where plenty of trees are growing but make sure they are not blocking sunlight. As butterflies are cold blooded insects, they need sunlight to maintain their body temperature.
Step 2: Plants
Use diversity of plants in order to attract various types of butterflies. They should vary in colour, type, flowering period, flowering type etc. This would attract different types of butterflies. Choose plants that support butterflies throughout their life cycle.
Plants for laying eggs
Butterflies are very specific about their egg laying sites. Different species of butterflies prefer different types of plants. Here is a list of plants which you can grow.
- Wild cherries
- Pussy willow
These plants host various kinds of butterflies which means you garden would be full of colourful butterflies once these eggs hatch.
Plants on which caterpillars feed on
Caterpillars basically feed upon leaves. Carrots, cabbage, violets, clovers, mustard, blue indigo, alpha alpha, passion flowers, violets, milkweed, pea, beans, lilies, rhododendron, apple, cherry, plum, curry leaves, custard Apple, castor, silk cotton tree, calotropis, cassia, citrus plants etc. all these plants will be like a feast to the butterfly caterpillars and they will happily live and feed in your garden.
Plants for nectar
Nectars are food for butterflies which they eat from flowers. They can be annuals or perennials. The choice of flowering plants is very important because your garden should have certain number of plants which are blooming throughout the year.
Butterfly attracting perennials – Lantana, Jamaican spike, Wedelia, Clerodendron, Alternanthera etc.
Butterfly attracting annuals – Ageratum, Gomphrena, Marigold, Cosmos, Zinnia, Celosia, Petunia, Sunflower, Sweet alyssum, Blue salvia, Lantana, Verbena etc.
Step 3: Provide water
Butterflies are special creatures so they drink water too in an unique style. Fill a saucer pan or any other container with sand. Saturate that sand with water and do not over water. The water should not be floating in the pan. Butterflies like to rest on that wet sand and from their only they absorb water and minerals. Keep it in a shady place or away from direct sunlight so that it doesn’t dry out fast.
Step 4: Add some stones and pebbles
Butterflies like to sit on rocks and sun bathe. With the help of sunlight, these rocks become warm and attract butterflies to sit on them. You can create some designs of your choice and decorate your garden too with different types of rocks.
Step 5: Avoid any chemicals
Butterflies have very sensitive noses (metaphorically speaking), but they do have a very sensitive olfactory sensory organ. They are attracted by smells of flowers and plants. Use of pesticides or any other type of chemicals will drive them away. Not even that, it will kill the natural smell of plants and wouldn’t attract these beautiful creatures.
Step 6: Create a small water body
If you have space then do consider creating a small pond or a small artificial fountain in your garden. This will give the butterflies a very good ambience as if they are in a beautiful jungle and will attract them more.
Step 7: Provide nutrients
Not just with the help of nectar, but butterflies also feed on rotting peels of fruits and vegetables. So you can use your kitchen waste for composting as well as for feeding butterflies. Identify a spot where you can keep a very little amount of peels. Try to use peels which are not older than 2 to 3 days in order to avoid a rotten smell in your garden. Replace them in every 2 to 3 days and using a small amount will also not attract too many houseflies.
By following these simple steps, you can create your very own butterfly garden. By all these things, we are basically trying to provide a natural environment to the butterflies in which they are comfortable and can consider that place as their home. Don’t wait too long, gather all the stuff you need and soon your mornings will be filled with a perfect sight of colourful wings all around your garden. Wouldn’t it be a perfect place to drink your morning coffee?