Butterflies in the Garden

You too can Attract these Flying Wonders

Butterflies are beauty on the wing.

The colors and animation these insects offer is reason enough to invite them to your gardens.

However, their life history, behavior and ecology are just as fascinating.

The science of insect study is called entomology and some entomologists specialize in these winged marvels.

As a Wildlife Habitat Naturalist, I read and do research on the work of others.

Red Admiral Butterfly

I also allow myself time to do some studies of my own.

Stick around and you will learn a few facts and reasons for some of the beautiful coloration and the stages of their amazing life cycle

There is the drama involved in reproduction.

The stories behind other behaviors such as basking, hibernation and migration.

A garden is full of life and activity and once you discover a few important things, attracting flying flowers will be easy and possibly a must for your gardens.

It's more fun to watch when you know whether the winged wonders are courting, spying or sparring.

Maybe they are looking for a place to lay their eggs or a nice sunny location.

These insects don't have a nose, they smell and taste with their feet, antennae and other parts of their body.

Their tongue called the proboscis, works much like a straw. It uncoils and probes deep into flowers and fruits to sip up the needed nectar.

When you understand more, you will discover the best ways to attract them to your gardens.


More than 700 species of butterflies inhabit North America.

Though most of them seldom appear in our gardens, much depends on its range and geographical locations.

There are limiting factors including latitude, altitude, climate, competition and food sources.

The most important factor is suitable habitat: the combination of plants, sun, water, shelter and other factors that they need to survive.

Some have restricted areas like the Mission Blue. This little butterfly is limited to a single mountain in the San Francisco area.

Karner Blue Butterfly Another endangered species is Karner Blue.

Though its range is more expansive, it depends totally on the wild blue lupine as a host plant.

As these wild flowers disappear from habitat destruction, so do they.

Most of these beauties that visit our gardens, however have extensive ranges and are well adapted to a range of territories

Many have expanded their range because of disrupted habitats and fortunately, our gardens have come to the rescue for some like the Black Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Monarchs, and many more.

Scientists classify habitats in many ways.

There are broad categories such as meadows, forests and deserts.

There are specific habitats such as riverside willow thickets.

Plants are an important component to a habitat and your garden.

Spring azure butterfly

Host plants of a species are plants that the caterpillars species feed upon and are often highly specific.

If these plants aren't available, there will not be a next generation of certain butterflies.

Some are choosy about their source of nectar as well.

Some prefer certain rotting fruits, yet others may be attracted to tree sap.

Most insects are near sighted, but see in color and can see ultra violet colors that aid in finding flowers as well as choosing a mate.

Some Common Profiles

A Butterfly's World


Life Cycle

Monarch Migration South

Monarch Facts

Flying Flower Friendly Yard

Garden Design for Butterflies

Nectar Flowers and Host Plants

Attract Bees and Other Pollinators

Shrubs for Food and Protection,

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