More and more butterflies are becoming endangered as they fall prey to pesticides and as more open spaces are lost to development, yet they play a critical role in maintaining the health of our environment. Not only do they help pollinate, but they provide food for other animals.
Here’s what you can do to help bring butterflies back:
- Garden for wildlife. Grow plants that butterfly caterpillars like to eat. These may be plants that are native to your region. They’ll attract native butterflies as well.
- Choose nectar-rich plants. Fill your garden not only with plants that caterpillars will eat, but also with those from which butterflies can drink.
- Build a house. If your yard doesn’t provide enough dense foliage to allow butterflies to hibernate and nest, build them a box they can use that offers protection from predators and harsh weather. The interior walls of the box should be rough enough to allow butterflies to grab a foothold. Scatter small twigs and leaves inside to promote hibernation and egg laying, and include thin vertical slats on the front to allow the butterflies to enter and exit. Make sure the box is hung no more than four feet above the ground and has a south or southwest exposure.
- Put out some water. A shallow dish or birdbath will provide the moisture butterflies need to thrive.
In all cases, consult your local gardening center for the best planting recommendations for the area in which you live.