Attracting Pollinators: Butterflies

When people think about pollinators, they obviously think of bees because they are the world’s master pollinators. But they are not the only ones. Butterflies are also good pollinators. So, while you’re planting flowers to attract bees to your garden, don’t neglect attracting butterflies, as well.

I love watching butterflies in my garden. Last year, I saw Gulf Flitillaries and Black Swallowtails, along with a beautiful yellow butterfly I haven’t been able to identify yet. They visited not only my marigolds and moon flowers, they enjoyed some of my crop flowers – especially my eggplant. Although these butterfly visits were not by intentional invitation, this year I want to be more purposeful in attracting these lovelies to my garden.

Like bees, butterflies are attracted by certain types of flowers. But don’t limit your invitation to just their favorite flowers; also create an environment that invites them to stay a while.

  • Plant red, yellow, orange, pink or purple flowers with short flower tubes, and plant similar colors together.
  • Because butterflies feed in full sun, they enjoy sun-loving plants.
  • Plant a variety of local native plants and plan for continuous bloom throughout your garden. Butterflies are most active mid- to late-summer, so be sure to choose varieties that are in full bloom at that time.
  • Do not use herbicides or pesticides in your garden as they are harmful to butterflies (and bees)!
  • Create a spot in your yard with wet sand for liquid and a rock for resting.
  • Don’t forget to supply a place for butterfly caterpillars to feed. Last year, I had Black Swallowtail caterpillars all over my parsley and dill. (Yes, they ate the herbs to the ground, but they grew back very quickly.)
Black Swallowtail caterpillars on parsley

Black Swallowtail caterpillars on parsley

For more information on local native varieties of flowers that draw butterflies to your garden, see this pollinator guide. Enter your zip code, and you’ll get a great guide on attracting pollinators, including butterflies. It contains a great chart that you can take to your local nursery for help in finding those attractive flowers. Your effort will pay off in beauty as well as pollination. And don’t forget to take pictures of the butterflies in your garden and share them with us on the Sanctuary Gardener Facebook page!

Enjoy your butterflies!

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