Gradually Growing a Butterfly Garden (while Finding a Community)


 Horn Like Osmeterium Caterpillar jpg

Horn-like Osmeterium

It started with a backyard like many others. Some lawn, trees, and shrubs — just a random mix of gardening inherited from a long line of previous homeowners.

Without much thought, I added in some flowers from the local nurseries: peonies, roses, and a few of the commonly sold exotics. In response, I noticed very little wildlife. I convinced my husband to build a large pond, complete with a bubbly cobblestone river for the birds. The pond caused some action — birds arrived and toads began to visit the pond for spring mating rituals. I saw an occasional butterfly pass through, but they would never linger for long.

As a child, I had been fascinated with butterflies, bees, and all other sorts of insects. I had played in the fields and delighted in the array of amazing insects that lived and dined on the native wildflowers. I decided to rethink my backyard with the goal of attracting butterflies.

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I, too, was delighted to find the caterpillars of easte rn swallowtail butterflies ( of course, I had no idea what they were at first and had to do some research)on parsley growing in my container. One day they were gone, and I was a bit sad, but I will always grow parsley now.

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I discovered and connected to butterfly gardening by accident as well. Last summer some strange caterpillars appeared in my vet small carrot patch of only about 20 or 30 plants. Google told me they were black swallowtails so I let them defoliate as they wished. I was still able to harvest the carrots a few weeks after they finished their visit. This year I am planning to do much more to provide habitat and nectar flowers.

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