Transform Your Garden into a Butterfly Sanctuary

To turn your garden into a butterfly sanctuary you'll want to provide the necessary resources for each life stage.

| June/July 2004

Flying Flowers

Relax your neat and tidy standards. A garden that looks and acts more like nature is not only easier on the person maintaining it, but also allows habitat to develop for all four butterfly life stages.

Photo courtesy Fotolia/Nada's Images

Follow these simple steps to attract more "flying flowers" into your yard.

Butterflies are one of Mother Nature's best head-turners — as they flutter by, their colorful and delicate beauty seldom fails to stop us in our tracks. But despite our attraction to them, our activities frequently damage their habitat. Some insects have large ranges and travel long distances, but many butterflies spend their entire short lives in areas not much larger than most back yards. So whether we're manicuring our lawns with chemicals or turning a wild meadow into a new strip mall, butterflies are particularly sensitive to our actions.

Conversely, though, butterfly conservation can be quite simple: If you create a butterfly garden, you can provide an oasis of habitat that can sustain the entire life history of some butterflies — even simple changes to your backyard can yield large benefits. You'll have the satisfaction of making an appreciable difference for these beautiful creatures, which your family will be able to enjoy up close and personal. And if you garden, you already have a head start.

Follow the steps outlined below and think of your butterfly garden as a miniature wildlife preserve — and a part of a local network of similar backyard sanctuaries — and you'll be well on your way to helping butterfly and other insect populations persist and thrive, even in urban environments.

Fulfilling Butterflies' Needs

The shorter a butterfly's flight, the more likely it will get what it needs without falling prey to predators. Look at your neighborhood from a butterfly's perspective: Consider how far butterflies fly to find all the resources they need to live. How far will they have to travel if they can't find what they need in your backyard garden? If your neighbors also garden for wildlife, then your community can create a network of habitat corridors along which butterflies can move.

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