Butterflies are one of nature’s wonders. A beautiful creature with many different varieties, butterflies can be found in most habitable places on the earth. However, bringing butterflies in greater numbers to your yard is another matter. You will need to do a little preparation, but the effort will be worth it when you see the butterflies flock to your yard.
What follows are a few tips to make your yard more attractive to butterflies. For the most part, you will not need to spend much in the way of money. What you really need to focus on is creating an environment that is safe and natural for butterflies to gather.
When is the best time of year to see butterflies?
Some butterfly’s species can be seen all year round however butterflies will be most numerous across the country in the summer. The majority of new butterflies will hatch in spring – species such as the Mourning Cloaks, Eastern Commas, Cabbage Whites and Spring Azures all appear in early spring.
Summer brings the most active season for butterflies – your yard will be brimming with vibrant and beautiful butterflies. Many migratory southern species of butterflies push northward during summertime which will bolsters numbers across much of America. The Tropical Sulhphurs fly from Mexico into much of Americas Southwest. Arguably the most famous of the butterfly’s species – the Monarchs, will have reached North Europe and Canada.
As trees shed their leaves for Fall butterfly numbers will also start to dwindle. The majority of butterflies will perish before the real cold even has a chance to settle in. Females will have already laid their eggs during fall to ensure next years generation. However, species such as the red-bordered satyr and the cloudless sulphurs will can still be seen flying in your gardens during October.
Winter offers limited comfort for many heat-seeking species. The Gulf of Mexico and California’s coast might offer mild enough winters to allow some species of butterflies to fly about. Some hardy butterflies will attempt to hibernate over winter but few will survive.
What are the best plants to attract butterflies?
Butterflies, like many humans, love the smell of fresh Lavender. These vibrant purpose-blue flowers grow in the summertime. Best planted in April or May, lavender is a great addition to any yard for both culinary and wildlife purposes!
The buddleia or the the butterfly bush is very easy to grow and can be planted in any soil. It will produce multicolored flowers that bloom during July and August. High in nectar, this shrub is great for attracting butterflies.
A great flower for Spring time is the Perennial Wallflower. This majestic purple flower creates an amazing sweet aroma. Appearing first in April, this flower will flourish un till the end of summer. Plant these in well-drained soil for the best result!
In addition to plants, Butterflies also love to take up moisture from rich and wet soil. Mud Baths can recreated using a ceramic bowl, water solution and some dirt. Follow this video and give it a go!
How to attract butterflies to your yard?
1.Choose a Sunny Area
Butterflies are rather sensitive to the cold, which is why you often see them perched on rocks in the sunshine. So, the first task is to find the areas of your yard that have plenty of sunshine for most of the day. It should also have the most sunshine during the year from the early spring to the late fall. It is in those places where you will create a natural habitat for butterflies.
Once you have found the right place, then you can start planning the habitat for the butterflies to make the area more attractive to them.
Butterflies love nectar and that is a necessary element in bringing them to your yard. You will need the right type of plants which provide the nectar, preferably those that are native to your location in the country. This means plants which not only provide nectar in the summertime, but also in the early spring and late fall when many butterflies are migrating.
You will need to plant a variety of nectar sources that will have your yard as a source of food for butterflies that lasts the entire growing season. However, you should be wary of some nectar sources such as the butterfly bush which is considered an invasive plant. While it does attract a considerable number of butterflies as the name suggest, it may do your yard more harm than good.
If you can’t wait for new flowers to blossom and fill your yard with nectar, consider adding a nectar feeder. Usually used to attract hummingbirds they are equally effective in attracting butterflies.
If you’re looking to make some homemade nectar or to attract hummingbirds, please have a read of our article on attracting hummingbirds.
3. Wind Protection
Because they are so light and delicate, butterflies do not like areas that have a lot of wind. This is why you often find them sheltered from the wind when on the ground. Given how much energy it takes for butterflies to battle the wind, the area you have selected will need some protection if you want to attract them in greater numbers.
You can plant natural windbreaks such as shrubs or trees that help in reducing wind velocity but be sure that such plants are far enough away that the do not block the sunlight. If you select an area next to a fence, then you can add plants that provide protection from the wind just off the ground while still offering plenty of sunshine.
4. Water Sources
Butterflies are also particular about where they get their water. Traditional fountains and birdbaths tend not to work out too well because they are too deep and often contain the very predators that they want to avoid. Instead, you should make some indentions in the dirt which allows for the creation of mud puddles.
Mud puddles are not only important because they provide a safe, shallow place for butterflies to drink, but the are also an important part of the breeding process. Male butterflies drink from the puddles which contain many nutrients that are passed on to the females which in turn go to making healthier eggs that become caterpillars.
5. Variety of Plants
Different species of butterflies have different sources of food. So, you will want to include the type of nectar sources that attract the types of butterflies that you want in your yard. Butterflies are attracted by the size, shape, and color of flowers, which means that you’ll need to do a little research and find the natural plants that are most suited to the needs of the butterflies that visit.
Keep in mind that butterflies rely on their sight, but their vision is rather limited. This means you will have to group the flowers relatively close together so that butterflies can travel from one to the other.
Of course, you can always go with milkweeds which are smaller flowers that attract all types of butterflies. While milkweeds alone may be enough, you should still plant other types of flowers for the variety that they provide.
6. Keep the Birds Away
With the butterflies comes the birds that feast on them. You’ll want to separate them as much as possible. Although it is impossible to keep the birds fully away from the butterflies, there are some simple things you can do to reduce their presence.
Create an area of your yard for birds and put that well away from the butterflies. For example, if you have a butterfly area set out in your backyard, put a birdbath, bird feeder, and even a bird house in your front yard. By creating an attractive place for birds to bathe, feed, and nest, you can keep at least some of them away from the butterflies.
7. Don’t Forget the Caterpillars
If you want the butterflies to stay around, you will need to have a place for caterpillars. This means food for the caterpillars along with the butterflies. This is because as the female butterflies are looking for food, they are also looking for a place to lay their eggs.
Finding the right plants for caterpillars, especially if you are looking to attract a particular type of butterfly, will take a little research. This is because some butterflies are quite picky about where they will feed and lay their eggs while others are less so. For caterpillars, you may want to include more trees and shrubs as they enjoy feeding off them compared to herbaceous plants.
Creating an attractive place for butterflies and the caterpillars is pretty easy if you do a little research, a little work, and a little attention to detail.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!