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What Makes a Good Butterfly Habitat?

In addition to providing nectar plants for adult butterflies and host plants for butterfly caterpillars, here are some things you can do to make your garden more butterfly-friendly:

  • Locate nectar plants in sunny areas; adult butterflies rarely feed in shade.
  • Avoid using pesticides.  Even organic insecticides kill butterfly caterpillars.
  • Provide flat stones for basking.  Cold-blooded butterflies often bask on stones and bare soil to gather the warmth they need for flight.
  • Allow dried plant stalks and twigs to remain standing.  Caterpillars often attach themselves to these before they pupate.
  • Plant for all-season bloom, because butterflies are active from early spring until late fall and need a continuous supply of nectar.  A few species feed on tree sap and rotting fruit instead of flowers.
  • Forego butterfly boxes.  Butterfly boxes are more likely to shelter wasps and spiders than butterflies.  Butterflies find temporary shelter under large leaves and against tree bark.  The few species that over-winter in the butterfly stage in our climate find shelter in places like hollow trees, crevices in wooden structures, and under loose bark.