The Flight of the Butterflies

Did you know that Monarch butterflies are endangered due to habitat loss and environmental stress? The numbers of these magnificent creatures have declined in part due to significant losses of native butterfly habitat across the United States. This is where you can help. No matter how small or how large your garden space is, you can plant one or more of the many plants that provide food for a variety of butterfly species (including the Monarch). Some of these plants can be planted in pots (like the smaller-sized Coneflowers, Pentas, or Butterfly weed). Of course if you have a large space, you can join me and plant the Milkweed plant. The Common Milkweed provides food for Monarch caterpillars.  Although it is historically considered a weed by farmers and grows over 3 feet tall, it’s attraction for the Monarchs’ is undeniable. (Remember seeing the Monarch butterflies flock to this plant when it used to grow all over the roadsides and pastures years ago?)

To get you started, the following is a list of additional plants that host or provide nectar for butterflies along with the specific colors that attract the best. For additional information, check with your local Extension Office or check on-line at National Wildlife Federation.  The NWF also sponsors a program specifically for creating butterfly habitats. Join in, and help to preserve the numbers of these winged wonders for future generations!

Common Host Plants: Asters- (purple, ruby, pink and blue); Cosmos- (pink and whites); Heliotrope (purple); Pentas- (purple, rose and white); Bee Balm- (pink and red); Black-eyed Susan- (yellow); Butterfly weed- (orange); Catmint- (blue and purple); Coreopsis- (yellow); Shasta Daisy/Daisy- (white); Daylily- (yellow, orange, peach and pink); Lavender- (purple); Liatris, blazing star- (mauve); Mint- (purple and white); Purple Coneflower- (pink and white); Sunflower- (yellow) and Butterfly Bush- (purple).

 

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