How to attract butterflies to your garden

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Butterflies are a common sight in gardens, but several species are in decline as they battle habitat loss.Here are some simple steps you can take to make your garden, patio or windowsill a little more homely for visiting butterflies, and encourage them to move in permanently.

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How to Attract Butterflies

Once you figure out how to attract butterflies, it seems so simple. Anyone can fill a butterfly garden with the vivid colors of these delicate visitors.

How to attract butterflies – expert advice on making a butterfly garden
Learning how to attract butterflies – and other pollinators – to your garden is a must. This is how to create a butterfly garden that’s beautiful.

Knowing how to attract butterflies to your yard is one of the most important changes you can make to your garden. Considered a key indicator of a healthy environment, three-quarters of butterfly species are in decline and four species have already gone extinct, therefore it is clear there is much to be done.

Cultivate a butterfly-friendly space with nectar-rich colorful flowers and wildlife garden ideas, and you will be able to enjoy spotting the likes of a Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted lady, Comma, Brimstone, Gatekeepper and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies dancing between the blooms.

How To Attract Butterflies

Our gardens are important corridors between natural habitats; a diverse, nectar-rich café allows butterflies and other insects to flit from flower to flower, pollinating and enabling seeds and fruit production.

Butterflies, once on the wing, cover larger areas than bees and get almost all of their food from nectar. Pollen sticks to their bodies as they feed, so that they pass it from flower to flower, pollinating the plants, but unlike bees, they don’t eat pollen.

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Add A Butterfly House

We’re all familiar with the bug hotel and have seen plenty of bird box ideas, however, you might be less familiar with the butterfly box. This box is a great and easy way to learn how to attract butterflies to your garden. The butterfly box is similar to a traditional bird box in that it is a similar size and enclosed on all sides save for the entry and exit point. However, butterfly boxes have narrow slits in the front rather than a hole, supposedly to replicate the splits in a tree’s bark. These slits help to protect the butterflies from predators and inclement weather.’Butterfly houses are essential for providing butterflies with somewhere safe to shelter, rest and hibernate,’

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What To Do If You See A Tired Butterfly?

Sometimes you might spot a tired looking butterfly lying on a path or patio. Flying is hard work, especially in the heat of the day. Thankfully, we can help them on their way. ‘If you come across a butterfly who appears tired during the spring and summer, the best thing to do is to provide nectar-rich plants nearby to encourage it to refuel. If the butterfly doesn’t move onto the plant itself after a while, you can very gently move it to the flower to encourage it to feed. Ensure there is a butterfly house nearby as well so that it has somewhere safe to rest and recharge,’

How Do I Attract Butterflies?

The best way to attract and keep butterflies coming back, other than planting things butterflies love is to avoid using pesticides or herbicides, especially on flowers, as they can kill pollinators and also enter the food chain. Rewilding and organic gardening without chemicals will help all butterflies and other insects in your garden, and also promote an increase in beneficial insects.

‘Place your butterfly house of choice in a sunny spot facing towards the south as this helps butterflies to warm up naturally. Hang it from approximately 1.5 metres and place it near nectar-rich flowers to attract them to the house. You can even make your butterfly house extra inviting by placing a few twigs upright inside the habitat to provide something for butterflies to cling to and rest.’

Adding a butterfly house is a great way to attract butterflies to your garden. Consider incorporating a butterfly house when you learn how to make a bug hotel or install a ready-made design straight into your garden.

When designing a garden for pollinators it is important to remember that different pollinators require different shapes of flowers and some will only visits to feed on particular blooms and plants.

In general, however, the best plants for a butterfly garden tend to be single, open flowers, such as old-fashioned cottage garden plants, are best to give easy access, and ideally planted in drifts and placed in a sunny, sheltered spot.

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Pollinators don’t like double, multi-petalled and highly hybridized flowers as they may lack pollen and nectar and be difficult to access.

‘Years of selection for increasingly showy blooms has resulted in flowers losing their attraction to pollinators, but there are plenty of traditional, cottage garden plants which are tip-top as far as these insects are concerned,’ explains plantswoman Sarah Raven.

You should also consider flowers that attract bees as there is a lot of overlap between the favorite plants of each species. Like bees, butterflies like to stick their long tongue into tubular flowers and take nectar from a variety of colorful blooms, both native and non-native.

When considering how to attract butterflies, it is important to ensure that you have lots of different flowers available for our winged friends.

‘Butterfly borders can provide lots of food for other types of insects, like bees and hoverflies, too, so they will go a long way to helping local populations of other pollinators,’

Also Plant For Caterpillars

When it comes to spring, butterflies start to hunt for the perfect place to lay their eggs. Having favourable habitats in your garden is a great way to attract butterflies.

‘Many adult moths and some butterflies can be catered for in gardens by providing plenty of plants for pollinators, while their caterpillars have more specific requirements. If you have space for a mixed grass meadow or a large patch of nettles in a sunny position you may be lucky and some species of butterfly may lay eggs,’ recommends Dr Andrew Salisbury, Principal Entomologist with the RHS.

While many of us might view nettles as an unwanted and potentially dangerous weed, it is in fact a lifeline for many butterflies and moths.

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Summer Gardens for Butterflies

There are many different reasons that different people decide to plant summer gardens. One common reason that is becoming more popular these days as people to seek to entertain their children through little things done closer to home is to attract butterflies. This is much easier done than one might think if you live in the right environment for these beautiful creatures to thrive and flourish.

Butterflies are beautiful creatures with very short life spans. For this reason they seem to be attracted to beautiful things during their short lives. Brightly colored flowers attract butterflies in droves. This means that flowers such as aster, marigold, black-eyed Susans, and butterfly weed are well known to attract butterflies.

Another thing you may wish to consider when selecting flowers for the purpose of attracting these delightful winged creatures to your summer garden is the nectar. This is the essential food for butterflies so a garden that is filled with more nectar producing flowers is likely to garner more than its fare share of attention from the butterflies nearby. The greater the selection of nectar producing flowers the greater the number of butterflies your garden is likely to attract so be sure to plant plenty and prune them in a manner that produces maximum flowers for maximum impact.

In addition to the flowers in your summer garden there are other methods that may be used to attract butterfly to the delight of young and old alike. One of those methods is by placing a several pieces of ripe fruit in your garden. This is another treat for butterflies to enjoy and will attract many that may be in the area.

One thing to remember when planting to attract butterflies is that they do adore worshipping the sun. This means that shady types of gardens aren’t best suited for attracting them and won’t keep them long if it happens to do so. Plant your butterfly garden in an area that benefits from the full force of the sun most of the day in order to entertain the most possible butterflies and keep in mind that different butterflies are attracted to different plants both as caterpillars and as butterflies. A little further study may produce the best results when seeking the most suitable plants for your butterfly garden depending on the type of butterflies you most hope to attract.

You should also avoid using pesticides in a flower garden built to attract butterflies. It wouldn’t make sense to attract butterflies to your garden only to harm them through the nourishment they receive while paying your summer garden a visit. Employ organic gardening methods in your butterfly garden for the best results.

You should also make sure there is a source of water nearby in order to keep the butterflies well hydrated. They need water just like any other animal. Many gardens these days add water features that keep the water moving (best for avoiding mosquito infestations) while having it freely available for the animals that we are hoping to attract such as birds and butterflies.

Our summer gardens are an investment of both time and attention. It is great when we can accomplish more than one beauty as the result of our hard work and effort. A summer garden designed to attract butterflies is a great way to achieve just that.


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