Who doesn’t want to invite these bright and beautiful little insects into your garden? Butterflies will not only help pollinate your plants but will also add bright colours and a little beauty to your outdoor space. Here’s a few tips to help you attract these little fellows…
Butterflies visit flowers in search of nectar, a sweet fluid produced by the flowers, as a reward for pollinating insects like bees and butterflies.
Butterflies are first attracted to flowers by their colour. Often British butterflies seem to prefer purple, pink and yellow coloured flower blossoms. Try grouping flowers together by colour to make it easier for butterflies to locate, rather than isolated plants.
Plant for continuous blossom through the season
Butterflies are active from early spring until late autumn. Plant a selection of flowers that will provide nectar throughout the entire season for example
• Spring – Hesperis
• Summer – Buddleia
• Autumn – Sedum
Location, location, location
Butterflies are known sun-seekers, so if possible, make sure you plant your flowers in a bright sunny area. As well as plants, look at placing flat stones in your garden, butterflies love to sit in the sun and will often perch on stones to spread their wings and bask. Basking raises their body temperature so they are able to fly and remain active.
Remember to include caterpillar “host” plants when planning your butterfly garden. Caterpillars are selective feeders and will only eat certain kinds of plants. The female butterfly is pretty intelligent and will lay eggs on or near the plants her caterpillars prefer to eat. Having the correct food plants will lure the butterflies into your garden and provide food for their caterpillars. A few host plants are:
• Fragaria vesca – Wild strawberry
• Urtica Dioica – Stinging nettle
• Hedera helix – Ivy
• Lotus corniculatus – Birds foot trefoil
• Potentilla reptans – Creeping cinquefoil
Use biological controls for pest management
Most garden pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Look for alternative solutions that will get rid of your pests without killing butterflies.