Butterflies bring beauty and delight to any garden or meadow they grace. And their names bring a smile as well: Small tortoiseshell, Orange tip, Purple emperor, Wall brown, Rear Admiral and Painted lady to name a few. “Butterflies…flowers that fly and all but sing” –Robert Frost
But they are more than just pretty creatures with playful names. They play an important role in the ecosystem. They pollinate flowers and shrubs like azaleas. Some caterpillars consume nuisance insects like aphids. Butterflies and their young serve as a food source, in turn, for many other insects and wild life.
Scientists also use them to understand changes in the environment. Drops in their population can occur due to climate change, differences in rainfall and loss of habitat. Approximately 750 species of butterfly call the United States home. Worldwide, roughly 17,500 species have been identified, according to the Smithsonian Institution.
By adding the appropriate native flowers and grasses to your sunny, pesticide-free gardens and meadows, you can create a home for butterflies. You give them nectar to drink, host plants on which to reproduce, and places to hibernate. They also appreciate muddy puddles to drink from; stones to sun on; and leaves and rocks for shelter at night.
With care and persistence, you will create a haven for them, and your garden will be filled with beautiful flowers and captivating butterflies.
For details, about how to create a wild-life friendly environment, go to the University of Maryland Extension at https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/attracting-wildlife