Let us hear from you – post questions or tips on butterfly gardening
I am in my third year of raising Monarchs. This year I have found two bugs that I believe are killing caterpillars. I have a photo so I need to know what this bug is and how to treat for it and if it, indeed, is out to kill Monarch caterpillars. Have not seen it on any other plants. Thank you for your help.
I found these tips for butterfly gardening on a garden site and thought that they were helpful, especially for those just beginning with their interest in butterflies and how to attract them.
Do Not Use Pesticides
You need to allow the caterpillars to grow and eat freely so they’ll develop enough strength to turn into butterflies. Whacking the garden with chemicals is not particularly friendly so avoid them.
Butterflies Love Hot Colors
There’s a reason we’re going to be planting a ton of yellow and red flowers in the butterfly garden. This insect loves the hot stuff so don’t skimp on heat.
Plant in Big Clumps
You want to attract butterflies – there’s not much brain power there so you have to give them a really big target. Plan on putting in large clumps of their favorite plants. In this case, bigger really is better.
In other words, put a minimum of three of any one kind in the clump to create big display of bloom.
Butterflies prefer full sun so your butterfly garden design efforts should focus on creating that full sun garden for them. The sunnier the better and out of the wind is preferred as well.
Now this is something most gardeners ignore in their butterfly garden design work. Adding water is a simple thing; you don’t require a pond though. What you do is excavate a very shallow depression (24-inches around by 6-inches deep) and either line it with plastic or sink a plastic garbage can lid in it. Do not puncture it for drainage. The objective is to create an area where it stays very muddy.
Butterflies will congregate on this very muddy ground regularly to sip up the water. You can surround the muddy area with plants or make it visible (my advice is to make it visible with very short plants in front so you can watch the butterflies sitting on the ground in one spot for more than a few seconds)
Put the stones in the morning sun. Butterflies love the radiant heat and can often be found snoozing and overnighting on these rocks. Rocks in the afternoon sun heat up too late in the day to get the butterflies moving and will be far less effective.
I have just returned from a visit to Wisconsin and, when checking out my butterfly plants to see how they have held up without me, I found a Monarch caterpillar on my milkweed. This happens to be a big deal for me, as the butterfly count in my yard this year has been extremely low. Of course, that caterpillar was immediately put in the safety of my butterfly box and is already hanging in J-form. I look forward to seeing him flying through the yard and finding a mate somewhere along the line to help fill the air with even more butterflies!!
Another lovely Friday morning at our Butterfly Garden with Catherine, Richard and Kathryn Dunlap. Did a lot of dead-heading and attacked some more of that pesky asparagus fern (of course, Catherine called it by the scientific name). Then, popsicles under the Oak tree. Catherine and I were rewarded just before I left with quite a treat. We were standing under the pipevine arbor when a polydamus swallowtail flew right up and proceeded to lay eggs, just a few inches from us. We could see each egg as she popped them out, 7 in total. What a wonderful surprise. Hope you can join us next week.
Spent a few hours this morning, helping our President, Catherine and her husband, Richard at our beautiful butterfly garden. Catherine gave me quite a job, cleaning out an area of invasive plants. When I finished this area and it looked clean and nice, I felt like I had paid back a bit of the joy that being a member of the Sarasota County Buterfly Garden gives me. And then, we paused for a Popsicle break. What a lovely way to spend a Friday morning. Join us next week and see what fun you can have.
Thanks so much Kathleen. We really appreciate you and yes that garden and our group do bring joy to many of us.
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