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For new butterfly gardeners...beyond nectar and host plants

14 years ago

You'll probably read a lot about what nectar and host plants to put into your gardens, but we tend to forget to mention that some gardening habits are not very hospitable to butterflies. Hope we can start a thread about what else we do to promote safe habitats for butterflies.

For me in my geographic region, one of the most eye-opening lessons I learned is how many butterflies overwinter as caterpillars or chrysalides. So, it's important to me not to do too much fall clean up because it can be hard to see if there is a chrysalis attached to a branch.

I also avoid raking up too much in the garden and just let the leaf matter decompose and/or provide more coverage for the pupae or caterpillars of various moth/butterfly species that may overwinter in or on the ground.

So, be a "lazy" gardener for the benefit of butterflies.

Allow for some weeds--many provide food for butterflies in larval and/or adult states (clover, sheep sorrel, dandelions, cinquefoil; would love to see more posted here).

Another thing I harp about is allowing spots in a yard (if possible) to just "go natural"--the uncultivated spots that I've allowed to return to native flora are often the places with the most life--native grasses provide food for so many different kinds of skippers and other types of butterflies and I have loads of native asters and goldenrods that are key nectar and host plants. Also, all of these grasses provide nice cover for the butterflies at night and/or during the cool nights and cover from predators.

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