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Attracting butterflies.

BUTTERFLIES AND BIRDS are not only beautiful visitors to your garden that offer hours of peaceful entertainment. They also provide provide valuable services.

They pollinate the garden and birds also act as a form of pest control by eating the bugs that dine on your plants.

Think of your yard as a resort. If you don't offer a nice place for guests to feel comfortable, the water is dingy and the food is terrible, they aren't going to come back. Obviously, because they are birds and butterflies, placing a luxurious bed with the finest chocolates resting on the pillows and offering the freshest steak and crab legs cooked to perfection won't bring them in. All that would do is probably attract the neighbors to your yard.

The proper way to get the butterflies to visit is to provide nectar and host plants, fresh water, plenty of sun and shelter from the elements. Host plants are necessary for providing shelter, acting as a nursery and a source of food for the caterpillars. The water source could simply be a shallow pan of coarse, moist sand.

Butterflies like yellow, orange, red, pink and purple plants. They also enjoy basking in the sunlight. The warmth keeps their wings prepared for flight and the sun keeps them oriented.

Flowers are a great way to attract birds, but there are more tricks to make your yard the perfect paradise for your feathered guests.

Offer birdseed such as black-oil sunflower seed, which attracts cardinals, finches, chickadees, jays and more. Seed mixes are also a good way to bring in a variety of birds and can be put in bird feeders.

Just like butterflies, birds need water and having a birdbath with a fountain should attract them. They also love having places to rest and feel safe. Having trees, bushes and birdhouses in your yard to offer protection from the elements and predators should help. Red, pink, orange, yellow and blue flowers catch a bird's attention. Provide areas for camouflage with mute colors like browns and grays.

Before making, or running to the store and purchasing a shelter, know which type of birds you want to attract because there are so many shapes and designs created for particular species. When placing birdhouses make sure there is plenty of space between them and have approximately three to an acre as birds can become quite territorial.

When selecting plants it is best to get native, as they have already adapted to the environment and they will attract birds that are already in your area. It is prudent that you avoid insecticides. If you have pets please research the plants, some on this list may be toxic for them.


Plants that attract butterflies in various zones.


Milkweed--Zones 3-8. Requires full to partial sun, well-drained soil. Has pinkish-purple flowers. Attracts monarchs and red admiral. Monarchs use it to lay eggs.

Snapdragon--Zones 3-8. Requires sun, fertile and well-drained soil. Comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Attracts hummingbirds.

Wild Senna--Zones 5-9. Requires sun to partial sun, moist soil. Has yellow flowers. Attracts cloudless sulphur butterflies, sleepy orange and orange-barred sulphur butterflies.

Water Dock--Zones 2-10. Requires full or partial sun, moist soil. Has green flowers. Attracts bronze copper butterflies and more.

Spider Flower--Zones 1-11. Requires sun, fertile and well-drained soil. Has pink or white flowers. Attracts cabbage white, great southern white and more.


Aster--Zones 3-10. Requires sun, well-drained soil. It has white, blue, red, pink lavender and purple flowers. Attracts American Lady, cabbage white, common buckeye, painted lady, pearl crescent, question mark, red admiral, viceroy, American snout, common checkered-skipper, fiery skipper, orange sulphur, eastern tailed-blue, lorquin admiral, west coast lady, sleepy orange, anise swallowtail and sachem butterflies as well as sparrows and goldfinches.

Zinnia--Zones 3-11. Requires full sun, well-drained soil. Comes in pink, yellow and rose colored. Attracts painted lady, pearl crescent, queen, zebra swallowtail, eastern tailed-blue, gulf fritillary, mourning cloak, western tiger, swallowtail, American copper, sleepy orange and anise swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds.

Butterfly bush--Zones 5-9. Requires sun, well-drained, moist, fertile soil. Has white, purple or yellow flowers. Attracts black swallowtail, giant swallowtail, Monarch, painted lady, pipevine swallowtail, queen, question mark, red admiral, red-spotted purple, zebra longwing, zebra swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, eastern tiger swallowtail, variegated fritillary, viceroy, eastern comma, gulf fritillary, mourning cloak, anise swallowtail and other species of butterflies. Note: It is considered invasive in certain states.

Black-Eyed Susan--Zones 4-9. Requires full sun and average, well-drained soil. Has yellow flowers with black centers. Attracts house finches, chickadees, American goldfinches and butterflies.

Sources: Bigner, Patty, and Fred Miller. Gardens with Wings. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. butterfly-garden/host-plants.html; Garden for Wildlife. National Wildlife Federation. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.; All About Birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
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Author:Thelen, Donna
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2015
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