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 Home Grown

Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners

Attracting Butterflies to Gardens

Almost any flower garden will attract butterflies, but if you're trying to attract as many different varieties of butterflies, in as many different stages of life, for as long as possible, here are some of the plants you might want to include:

Many butterflies will lay their eggs only on the particular plants the caterpillar will need to eat once it hatches. For monarchs, that includes any plants in the milkweed family -- butterfly milkweed, swamp or smooth milkweed, etc.

Queen Anne's Lace Swallowtails lay their eggs on members of the parsley family -- dill, fennel, Queen Anne's lace, etc.

Birch Tree The caterpillars of viceroy butterflies feed on willows. Other good trees and shrubs for butterfly larva include birch, cherry, crabapple, plum, buckeye, etc.

Coreopsis Asters or daisies are other good food sources -- coreopsis, rudbeckia, coneflowers, asters, yarrow, etc.

Good nectar sources for the mature butterfly are bright-colored (lavender, purple, pink, red), fragrant flowers with "nectar guides."

Bee Balm Asters and milkweeds are good nectar sources, along with lilies, bee balm, gayfeather, goldenrod, phlox, etc.

Viburnum Flowering shrubs like viburnum, butterfly bush and lilacs are also good choices.

Bluestem Grass Native grasses like Indiangrass, bluestem and switchgrass provide good resting and hiding places.

And one of the easiest recommendations to follow is to leave a weedy patch somewhere in your yard since clover, violets, thistles and fleabanes are also important parts of their diet.

Source: Karma Larsen, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

Butterflies of Oklahoma, Kansas, and North Texas
by John M. Dole, Walter B. Gerard and John M. Nelson. Bloomings Books, 2004.

This handsome guidebook profiles 100 of the most common butterflies of the southern plains, including the popular Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the resplendant Gulf Fritillary and the lesser known Swamp Metalmark.

"Butterflies may be seen in any month of the year when trhe temperature rises above 60 degrees, even for only a day or two," note the authors, a trio made up of a horticulturist, a biologist and a butterfly monitor.

"Butterflies are probably the most recognizable group of animals in the world. They live everywhere that we live and attract our attention with their pleasing shapes, beautiful colors, and ability to fly."

Illustrated with color photos of each species in flight and in its natural habitat, this guide details physical descriptions, habitat and food preferences, and county-level range maps. As a bonus, it includes instructions on how to raise butterflies at home.

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