Creating a butterfly habitat which is where a butterfly can go through all four life stages is not about the flowers. It’s also not about butterfly bushes. I get asked about butterfly bushes a lot and you can understand why because the name makes it seem like they are something that creates a butterfly habitat. But the truth is butterfly bushes have nothing to do with creating a butterfly habitat. And in fact, many people plant a butterfly bush and then say Great now my garden’s a butterfly habitat and they’re completely wrong.
Learn Caterpillar Culture
The only thing that helps butterflies have babies or procreate to have the next generation of butterflies is something that would help the caterpillars. And we also have to learn Caterpillar culture. Remember we discuss before each kind of caterpillar has one kind of plant that it eats. To make a successful butterfly garden. We have to first find out what butterflies live in our area for my garden in Florida. I don’t plant plants that attract butterflies that live in Canada. I plant plants for my local caterpillars to eat.
A habitat is a place where mama can lay her eggs. And that’s of course on the correct host plants. And then those eggs go through their caterpillar stage and they eventually become a chrysalis. If your garden does not have eggs, caterpillars, and Chrysalis. If butterflies are only stopping by for a second to take a drink out of your flowers and then leaving. You don’t have a habitat. Habitats must incorporate host plants.
Habitats are about conservation. And if we want to do anything to conserve butterflies. We have to enable them to have the next generation. That requires knowledge of host plants. Every butterfly in the world lays her eggs on one kind of plant for every species of butterfly. There are a corresponding species of plants or genus of plants that she lays her eggs on. If we want to help that specific butterfly, we have to put her specific host plants that her caterpillars host on in our gardens.
Mama butterfly can smell her plants with her antennae from a mile away. So, when we put the correct plants for our local butterfly species in our garden, Mama butterflies that are around our area can smell them and they come to our garden and lay eggs.
Males also can smell with their antennae and they also instinctively know what are their host plants and they know that’s where the girls are.
Butterflies have two parts to their life:
If we want to create a habitat where we have all four stages of the butterfly life cycle going on, we have to have host plants. This is why I say if you just have flowers in your garden you’re not doing much.
People get confused because they know that the adult stage the one with wings drinks from flowers and that’s a true statement. But remember butterflies have two parts to their life. It’s not just about their weird part of life. If you want to help them, we can’t just feed them in their adult stages. Because most butterflies are losing habitat on Earth. That’s why their numbers are dropping.
And when I say they’re losing habitat I don’t mean people aren’t planting enough flowers for them to drink nectar from. While that might be somewhat true. What’s truer, is if they lose that one specific host plant that they lay their eggs on. Now they can’t have any more babies. So, some butterflies, for instance, use a plant that’s only in a very small region may be a county or two counties of any given state. And if that plant is deemed useful by humans and we get rid of it guess what. We lose that butterfly. It is very important for butterfly conservation that we forget that the old idea that its flowers that help butterflies. It actually hosts plants that help butterflies. Habitat is their only hope for survival.
Plants that help the next generation:
When I say butterfly garden I’m speaking specifically of a habitat where we put specific plants that help them to have the next generation. Mama can locate that plant from a mile away with her antennae. And if you don’t have caterpillars in your yard you are doing it wrong. We want a habitat that supports all for life stages a healthy Habitat has caterpillars take action to make sure that you know the difference between a garden with flowers and habitat with host plants and flowers. Learn about Ten critical components for an effective butterfly habitat from here.