What a Butterfly Wants

THE PHOTO BELOW SHOWS a yellow tiger swallowtail butterfly alighting on a dianthus (commonly known as a 'garden pink'). This plant illustrates some of the characteristics that are likely to attract butterflies:

1. It is an old-fashioned (sometimes called 'cottage garden') plant. Plants that have been around for a while, both old-fashioned garden varieties and native plants, are more likely to produce the nectar butterflies find so attractive.

2. The flower is flat. Flat, daisy-like flowers and spikes of small flowers tend to be better for butterflies because they offer a flat landing surface, where the butterfly can land without injuring its wings.

3. The flower stems are quite sturdy. This, plus the flat flower, gives the butterfly a good place to land. A sturdy landing surface is particularly important for large butterflies such as the tiger swallowtail.

4. The flowers are fragrant. Butterflies have excellent scent receptors, and some authorities believe that they are attracted to fragrant flowers.

5. The flowers are brightly colored, and there are a lot of them. Butterflies see colors differently from the way we do, so it is difficult for humans to know what colors will appeal to butterflies. But plants that offer a lot of brightly colored blooms do seem to attract them.

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zorra said...

I'm living in the foothills of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. As beautiful as it is, I'm dispirited by the abundance of kudzu, wisteria and english ivy that invades our woods. In my little neighborhood I'm making it my mission to erradicate not only the invasives on my property but my neighbors as well. I'm starting to put a little attention to what plants would be good replacement plants. I enjoy your observations and I draw comfort knowing others too are working to rebalance the planet. Thankyou.

Wild Flora said...

Thanks for your comment, Zorra. I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling dispirited. This can happen easily when you devote yourself to this sort of work. But rest assured that there are quite a lot of people who share your views.