Butterflies aren’t just beautiful, they also play an important role in the ecosystem. Bees often get all the credit for pollinating flowers, but butterflies are involved in this process as well, although to a lesser extent. Butterflies typically drink the sweet nectar of colorful flowers that are large enough for them to land on. As they sip on the nectar, they gather pollen on their legs, which is eventually transferred to the female part of a plant. Because many species of butterflies travel long distances—sometimes up to 3,000 miles—they are able to pollinate flowers in many different areas.
Butterflies are also a source of food for natural predators such as birds, lizards, frogs, and toads. Without them, these animals would not have as much to eat. Unfortunately, the butterfly population is on the decline because of climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution in the atmosphere. If you want to do your part, encourage the growth of the butterfly population using bio-mimicry methods.
Bio-mimicry is the use of natural methods, rather than chemical, to solve an environmental issue, such as the declining population of butterflies. One bio-mimicry strategy to save these beautiful creatures is planting butterfly-friendly flowers in your yard. To get involved, start planting these flowers:
As its name suggests, the butterfly bush is perfect for attracting butterflies to your yard. This is a great choice for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time tending to their gardens, so the butterfly bush is a fairly low-maintenance plant. It can also grow well in most regions, including the Midwest, Pacific coast, and parts of the south.
The aster flower is known for its dense and brightly colored blooms, but many people don’t know how vital this plant is to butterflies. The aster blooms in the fall and produces sweet nectar that butterflies love. In addition, some species of caterpillars also feed on the aster’s leaves, which means it is a food source for both caterpillars and full-grown butterflies. Fortunately, the aster can grow anywhere in the 48 lower states of the U.S. as long as you get the right species for your region.
Plant pentas flowers to instantly add a splash of color to your garden. These plants grow unique star-shaped blooms that come in a wide variety of colors, including pink, white, and dark red. Once these are in your garden, you may notice both butterflies and hummingbirds stopping by for a sip of nectar. Unfortunately, the pentas will only grow well in the south and along the Pacific coast.
The black-eyed Susan flower begins to bloom in the late summer and early fall. Many people believe this flower looks like a cross between a daisy and a sunflower because it is the shape of a daisy but has the colors of a sunflower. The bright and cheery flowers will liven up any garden, especially those in the Midwest and northwest.
Joe Pye Weed
If you want to add height to your garden, there’s no better way to do so than with the butterfly-friendly Joe pye weed, which can grow over six feet tall. Butterflies are drawn to this bright and beautiful flower that blooms in the summer and fall seasons. As long as you don’t live in an extremely hot or cold climate, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the Joe pye weed to flourish in your yard.
Fennel is another plant that can grow almost anywhere in the U.S. with the exception of extreme climates. This plant tends to attract Swallowtail butterflies because the caterpillars enjoy chowing down on fennel leaves. If you decide to plant this in your yard, be prepared to keep it under control. Fennel grows quickly, so you will need to contain it to one area unless you want it to expand to other parts of your yard.
South American Verbena
The lavender blooms on this flower are so beautiful that you may think about cutting them to add them to a floral arrangement inside your home. But, resist temptation and keep the flowers where they are so they can continue to attract butterflies. This flower needs warmth, so unfortunately it does not grow in the north and areas of the Midwest. But, southern gardeners shouldn’t have any trouble getting this flower to bloom in their gardens.
Add a tropical feel to your garden with the passionflower vine, which can climb up to 30 feet. This vine blooms all year long and produces a sweet smell that will attract butterflies and please your senses, too. The passionflower vine does not grow in northern climates, but it’s perfect for gardens in the south and areas of the western United States.
Be Wary for Butterflies
These flowers will not only transform your landscaping, but they will also put us one step closer to saving the beautiful butterflies. After planting these flowers, there are a few steps you should take to protect the butterflies that visit your yard. First, avoid using pesticides at all costs. Even if a pesticide is organic, it could still harm certain species of butterflies and bees. If you have to apply pesticides, make sure that you do not spray them on any open blooms that may attract butterflies.
Soaking in the Mud
Believe it or not, butterflies are also attracted to mud puddles, which contain nutrients and salt that they need to survive. If you’ve already planted some of the flowers listed above in your yard, then create a mud puddle for butterflies to relax in as well. Fill a shallow dish or pan with water and sand or gravel and keep it near the plants that are supposed to draw butterflies to your yard. This way, the butterflies that do stop by for a visit will have the opportunity to lounge in the mud puddle after enjoying the flowers’ sweet nectar.
Planting certain flowers and making a few small changes to your yard is a small price to pay to protect the world’s butterflies. Spread the word to friends and family members so you can get more people involved with this mission. Together, we have the power to save the butterflies!