Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly Gardening and insect collecting goes hand in's all about observing and enjoying nature up close!


For many it's a backyard adventure. Taking a slow walk and taking the time to explore and look,

...we mean REALLY look, to see what is right there, but hidden and often never seen!

For instance during one adventure, we discovered this 'Common Grey Tree Frog' completely camouflaged, clinging to a green tomato.

...a tomato plant?
...a tree frog?
you might ask, what does that have to do with butterfly gardening?

well actually a lot!


You see when selecting plants to attract butterflies, you get the added bonus of creating an enviroment that attracts a whole world of facinating creatures.

When selecting plants for your butterfly garden, remember, that before they are butterflies, they are caterpillars.

Depending on which stage of their life cycle they are in, caterpillar or adult, they will be feeding on either Host Plants or Nectar Plants.

Host Plants are what they eat as a caterpillar and Nectar Plants are what adult butterflies feed on.

Now not to confuse you, but Nectar plants, (plants with flowers) in many cases can also be a host plant, as caterpillars will often feed on the foliage of the same plant.


(A good example of this would be the Milkweed plant, a favorite food of both the Monarch caterpillar and the adult butterfly.)

Host Plants on the other hand, may not have flowers, and in that case they would only be a Host Plant.

So how do you know which plants to choose?

It's actually pretty simple, and with more than 700 species of butterflies living in North America, it's going to be easier than you think to get results quickly!


To simplify things a bit and help you choose just the right plant when trying to attract specific butterflies, we have created the following two lists of plants:


Host Plants Nectar Plants


So if you are only interested in attracting adult butterflies,
you only plant more nectar plants right?

Not exactly... you see adult butterflies, using their sight and smell are attracted to both nectar and host plants.

... and this is important if you want to attract the greatest number of adult butterflies to your garden

Remember adults feed on Nectar plants and they are also searching for Host Plants on which to lay their eggs.

Most people think butterflies can lay their eggs on any thing and that the baby caterpillars will crawl around until they find food.

But that just isn't the case!

You see newborn caterpillars are so tiny, they don't have much in the way of stored up energy and they need to begin feeding right away or they won't survive. The eggs need to be laid right on a host plant or very very close if they are to have a chance at all.

So by including a mixture of host and nectar plants, you are attracting all of the butterflies in your area by providing everything they are looking for.

Plus... you will have the added pleasure of seeing newly hatched butterflies - and if you look real close you will begin finding some real hidden treasures like this monarch chrysalis.






...and remember, when you are out in your garden,
there is probably always someone watching!

Have fun, look, learn, wonder, enjoy... and share for a lifetime!


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