Tips to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden, Yard or Patio

img 0067 300x225 Tips to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden, Yard or PatioWhile butterflies may not be the most important or efficient pollinators (in terms of how much work they can accomplish in a garden), they can easilly be one of the most visually beautiful and enjoyable creatures in your garden. If you like seeing a multitude of these beauties in your garden, there are a few simple tricks you can do to secure a long term stay of summer butterflies around your yard. I’ve picked up a lot of little tricks while creating several “Backyard Habitats,” and this is the first tip I want to share with you!

Once mating season begins for the male butterflies, their life is one completely centered around finding mates, and perching to rest before looking for more mates! Male butterflies can scent an eligible female from a distance of up to one mile, and will expend most of their energy searching for and securing mates. While females generally mate once, males mate many times. In areas where males are few, they may exhaust themselves satisfying the local female population who become more aggressive in their need to reproduce, once they sense the lack of healthy partners. One of the keys to attracting pollinators (and butterflies in general) is plant selection. You want to build inviting areas for nectar drinking, perching, and hopefully egg laying. To create an area that attracts those busy male butterflies, provide an area that will meet the needs of the females, while creating a place that the male can relax and restock on the nutrients he is losing in the mating process.

The two most important steps to take for attracting male butterflies to your pollinator garden are this:

  1. Provide a separate water source that is protected from birds. Either a short bird bath, a ceramic dish, or a pot’s catch basin will suffice. A quiet water source for these busy creatures will become a basking location, and a place for a quick drink in between all the nectar sipping. Nectar does not meet most of the nutritional needs of butterflies, so males generally congregate around the edges of ponds and streams to drink and absorb the important minerals contained in the sand and soil, that they need to keep up their energy. You can provide this nutritional necessity for them in your yard, to complete your butterfly haven, and to secure long term visitation of the male.
  2. Provide a sandy spot, or an artificial stream bed in your yard for the males to absorb the minerals and nutrients lost in their exertions. Sand can be transported from a local stream to your yard, or it can be purchased cheaply at your local garden center. What I have done in the past is to buy a bag of sand, and to fill a large aluminum cookie tin with it. I place the cookie tin in the ground, with the lip of the tin, and the sand roughly at mulch, or dirt level. Male butterflies have never failed to approach these areas to rest, and revive after a hard days work. I have found also that an excellent side benefit to having an artificial stream bed, is an increased ability to photograph butterflies here, since they are finally holding still!


For a little lite reading on butterfliles, and their nutritional information, here’s a great resource I’ve found!

Your thoughts: Do you have any tried-and-true secrets to attract butterflies to your yard or patio? Do you have any favorite photographs of butterflies that you have taken in your garden or yard? If so, please send them my way! You can email me at greengardenista@gmail.com. I will post any pictures that I receive on a special “Garden Wildlife” feature coming soon to Green Gardenista!

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Comments

  1. Great tip! Thanks for this. My girls will thank you as we will have to add a butterfly area on our landscaping “to do” list!

  2. admin says:

    Sounds great! In my experience, kids, and bugs make great friends, and kids tend to really enjoy gardening if they feel like they are doing it in part to take care of another creature.

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