WHEN I TALK ABOUT ATTRACTING CATERPILLARS to the garden, some people ... well, they get a little nervous. A lot of people have the idea that caterpillars are destructive. So here are two points to consider:

  1. There are no butterflies without caterpillars. If you want butterflies in your garden, you must provide a haven for caterpillars.

  2. The caterpillars that don't grow up to be butterflies grow up to be moths. Only a tiny percentage of moths are destructive; the vast majority are useful. Many moths are extraordinarily beautiful, such as the gorgeous Polyphemus moth shown above. Most of the pest species of moths aren't even interested in your garden, so what you do there isn't going to make a difference to them.

So there is very little to fear -- and much to gain -- from attracting caterpillars to your garden! Tomorrow: How to attract butterfly caterpillars to your garden.

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