Habitats and Habits of Butterflies

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Butterfly
Photo Credit: Roby©/Flickr

Butterflies are cold blooded creatures and seek the sun to warm them.  Normally they don’t even come out on cloudy days.  Having an open sunny area will bring on the butterflies. If the temperature is too hot, however, butterflies will seek shade. 

Butterflies like to feed around the edges of the garden or wooded areas.  If you plant tall flowers near trees and shorter flower on the borders of your flower beds or lawn, you are more likely to have butterflies come to stay.

GATHERING AROUND THE WATER HOLE

Puddles are favorite places for male butterflies to get a nice drink of water, so leave a few depressions where the rain water can collect.  Butterflies get salts from the wet soil.  Animal droppings are also a butterfly treat, if you can handle that.  Another good water source you can provide is a shallow water bowl buried to ground level.  If you put over ripe fruit in it, you will also provide some nourishment for those butterflies that eat rotting fruit.

Butterflies like to rest on the lower dead branches of trees or snags (standing dead trees).  If you don’t have those, a brush pile will also work.

If you put mulch around the host plants, caterpillars will have a safe place to hide by day.  They usually feed at night when there are fewer predators.  Some species of butterflies pupate under the mulch, so  when fall comes do not disturb the mulch in the garden often. 

BRRRR…IT’S COLD OUT THERE

Butterflies usually hibernate in the winter as caterpillars, pupae or adults.  If it is an adult butterfly they like to hide away under tree bark and come out on sunny days to feed on sap or rotted fruit.  Put fruit peelings, apple cores or rotting bananas in an out of the way place  for the butterflies in cold weather.

There will be food for the over-wintering caterpillars if you leave some of the dried perennial stems and any grasses in the garden.  It might not be as attractive, but it will keep those caterpillars alive.

Providing for the above needs makes your garden a year-round butterfly friendly habitat.  You will encourage the butterflies to call your yard home. 

 

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