Our backyards and backgardens are a great place to see native insects, bees, bumble bees, honey bees and butterflies and all sorts of wildlife like that. They are attracted to our gardens, whether they are cultivated or not and are drawn sometimes by scent and other times by the urge to feed, drink water or to lay their eggs and reproduce. How to attract butterflies to our gardens is perhaps something that some gardeners may not wish to read about, but nevertheless, it’s a topic that a lot of people are still interested in.
Creating a habitat for these colourful creatures is not difficult and with a small little attention to planning, we can easily make an attractive envoirnment for these. We have written previously on the different ideas and methods of preventing butterflies from invading our vegetable raised beds and plots, ( by installing mesh netting around some types of plants etc,) the idea and process here is to accomodate these butterflies and at the same time, attempt to have a flourishing thriving garden as well. All of these creatures require food and shelter in order to survive and we can do our bit by creating this habitat along side of our gardens. Here, we will take a look at what we can do to attract more native butterfly species to our gardens and assist in some small way to support their dwindling numbers.
How to attract butterflies to our gardens;
One of the best methods of achieving this task is to grow nectar and pollen rich plants that will attract these creatures to our gardens and if we could only do something small every year, we would be doing them a great service. All these insects and butterflies are attracted by scents, smells and colour, so this is a great starting point in our quest to have this type of envoirnment in our backgardens or backyards. Indeed we all like to have a certain amount of scent and colour ourselves, if we are the gardening type, so here, we would be killing two birds with the one stone, so to speak.
The best flowers and shrubs that will make this happen for us are as follows; Budleia or the butterfly bush, as its known, Aster, Calendula, Nasturtium, Marigolds, Oregano, Phlox, Lavender, Hollyhock and Delphinium. Some of these that we have just mentioned are perennials and will return year after year and thus need only to be planted once. The budleia, is a shrub that will definitely attract butterflies, regardless of where we live and what type of climate we have, as it’s recognised as the one truly butterfly friendly plant.
Creating a wild-flower meadow envoirnment;
Why has this exercise received so much truck, debate and conversation recently and also what is so special about having this type of habitat in our homes today…. For starters, much of this type of landscape no longer exists in the greater countryside due to the advent of man made fertilisers, pesticides and chemical sprays that are used in the farming and horticultural industry. It is reckoned that at least 50 – 70% of our native species of grasses, flowers, and plants have been destroyed due to this type of horticultural practise. This has a knock on effect on our wildlife population also and sadly this disaster is not just confined to our bees and insects but also to some of our birds and wild animals.
The solution to this dilemma is to create a safe and friendly insect, butterfly envoirnment in our backyards or backgardens. A small, sunny tract or plot of our garden will easily be sufficient to create this habitat. The wild flower meadow seed is available online, or at our garden centres and nurseries and is very inexpensive, especially when we see what it does for us. It comes in small packets, just like vegetable seeds etc, all we need do is to scatter these seeds in some prepared, tilled ground and nature does the rest. The beauty about this product is that it is self seeding, ie, it will reproduce seeds for next year and will keep flowering year after year, so no maintenance is required whatsoever. This method will attract butterflies, insects, honeybees etc. to our gardens and will have a positive effect on ours’ and their lives, for sure.
The life of a butterfly;
Did we know that the butterfly goes through four major stages in it’s lifetime. For starters, it begins as a laid egg, then onto a larvae, then to a pupua and finally metamorphs into the butterfly as we know it. So there is a lot at stake here for the preservation of these species and if we can facilitate them in some shape or form, we would really do them a great favour. Adult butterflies like to lay their eggs in nettles, thistles and leafy plants, so as when the eggs hatch, they have some greenery and material to feed on. Without upsetting our gardening brethern, these butterflies like to lay their eggs on cabbage also, so this is where we need to strike a happy medium. When the eggs hatch into caterpillars, they can devour a head of cabbage in no time and that’s not a pretty sight, hence the mesh netting mentioned above.
Credit where credit is due, these people that go to great lengths to collect, harvest and preserve the seeds of these wild flowers and plants that are almost extinct, must be mentioned here. They are the unsung heros in my book and do a great job in an otherwise, very much unknown industry. But, for these great forward thinkers and scientists, our gardening and wildlife past, would be just a distant dream. Fortunately for us, we can now relive, what it was like 50-60 yrs ago, in terms of what our meadows and backgardens looked like.
For the real butterfly enthusiast, there are now butterfly houses available online or at some garden centres, just like the bird boxes that we see from time to time. We just hang these on trees or under the eves of our garden sheds or garages and they will eventually be found and occupied. I trust once again that this information is useful informative and helpful. if you would like to join in the conversation, please do so, via the comments box down below and we will duly reply to your queries in due course.
Happy gardening to all,
Cheers Phil Browne.