Saturday, February 14, 2015

Gardening for Butterflies

It's cold outside, but in my heart it's almost summer...well, springtime, at least.
Seeds have been purchased and I'll be ordering shrubs, roses, and perennials soon.
As I think about flowers in my garden, I also think about the wildlife that benefit from my garden. Today it's butterflies that I want to talk about.

Last summer we had quite a few butterflies and it's not by accident. I garden for butterflies.

From the first three images below, you would think that that monarchs really like zinnias - and you would be correct!
In the Polk County Master Gardener's Discovery Garden at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, I captured this image and the one below. There were many monarchs there.

In my own garden - a favorite shot.

The butterflies spend a great deal of time on the Verbena bonariensis. Above is a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (I think). This website talks about yellow and dark colored Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. Images on the site show a butterfly that looks almost exactly like this one.

Another Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on the Verbena bonariensis. If you don't have this plant in your garden and you want to attract butterflies, I highly recommend it - it's a butterfly magnet!

 Here a monarch is enjoying Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Persicaria Orientalis)

 I told you zinnias were popular with the (Painted) ladies! lol

To have true success attracting butterflies in your garden , you also need host plants; that is, plants where the females lay their eggs and the young hatch and grow.

 Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs. Above, two monarch caterpillars on common milkweed.

This is common milkweed in my garden

 Another type of milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as Butterfly Weed

 Asclepias incarnata, commonly known as Swamp milkweed, Red milkweed, Marsh milkweed, and Rose milkweed

I also grow host plants for Black Swallowtails. Their host plants include dill, fennel, Queen Anne's lace, parsley, and celery.

To be a good steward of your butterfly garden, avoid use of insecticides and plant native plants.

Happy Valentine's Day!


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