The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
Butterflies are one of the most beautiful insects that people will willingly want to attract to their gardens. After all, not only are they beautiful to look at, but they also help to pollinate the flowers in your garden, making them a welcome addition to any garden patch.
Most people know that butterflies are attracted to flowers that they can pollinate, but what else are they attracted to? Some people might begin to wonder if they are similar to their moth cousins who are notorious for being attracted to lights during the dark hours of the night.
Butterflies are like many other bugs in the fact that they have phototaxis, or the instinctual urge to fly toward light sources. Moths are the most infamous for having this trait, as you can often see moths gathered near light sources during the darker hours of the evening.
The reason why this is not as prominent in butterflies is because butterflies sleep during the night, which leaves them active during the day, where light sources are not nearly as striking and they are primarily focused on pollinating or migrating.
However, if a butterfly were to be awake during the dark hours of the night, one would surely want to fly toward any light sources that you have on your property.
In short, butterflies are attracted to light sources, but this aspect is rendered moot as they are exclusively diurnal insects. If you are interested in attracting butterflies to your garden, there are far more effective methods of bringing them to your yard than trying to set up light sources during the day.
Bringing Butterflies to Your Garden
Butterflies are one of the most beloved pollinators that gardeners want to bring into their gardens. If you want to try and attract more butterflies into your garden, you are going to want to do what you can to try and make your garden more appealing to them.
Naturally, the first step in doing this is going to be to try and learn what butterflies look for the most when they are searching for places to pollinate. When you know what butterflies are on the search for when they are flying around, you will know what you should add to your garden to make it more appealing to them, and more often than not, this is going to end up being different kinds of brightly colored flowers.
The most important thing to consider is knowing what kinds of butterflies are native to your location. There are some butterflies that seem to be found all across the country, while other butterflies may be found in localized areas with a specific climate or plant that they prefer as caterpillars.
As such, different types of butterflies will have a preference for different plants. You will also need to consider what kind of plants specific butterflies prefer when they are still caterpillars, as this increases the chance that the butterflies will want to be in that area so that they can place their young there.
This means that you will want to look at plants that the caterpillars of your desired butterfly species appreciate. Chances are that if the butterfly species you want to attract the most is local to your area, then you will also have the right soil type for the plants that the caterpillars want, so this is something that you won’t have to worry as much about.
These plants are typically known as host plants, since they host the butterfly’s young until they are able to complete their metamorphosis. Common host plants for all types of butterflies include milkweed (and milkweed variants), orchard grass, pipevines, aspen and elm trees, and so on.
By including these host plants in your garden in addition to the nectar-bearing plants that butterflies will want to drink from, you will have drastically increased chances of having butterflies in your yard during the summer months of the year.
Choosing the Right Flowers
From here, you will want to consider what flowers you already have. Butterflies are attracted to brightly colored flowers, but something you need to keep in mind is that they perceive colors differently than most people do.
Butterflies see the world through ultraviolet light, which means that they can only see colors at a higher frequency. Interestingly enough, despite the facts that butterflies are blind to colors such as red, they prefer red flowers compared to flowers with a higher color frequency, such as green.
The rule of thumb that most gardeners go by is that butterflies enjoy flowers that range from red, yellow, and orange to pink, purple, and white. They don’t appreciate flowers that are predominantly blue or green, and this is important to remember as you are picking out the right flowers to try and bring them to your yard.
Butterflies eat the nectar of flowers for the most part, meaning that if you want them to come to your garden, you are going to want flowers that produce a considerable amount of nectar.
Likewise, you will also want to make sure that the flower blossoms are deep, which ensures that butterflies are one of the only animals that can consume the nectar inside and that there are large bunches of flowers in the cluster, so that they can have an easier time getting their food.
These are the general rules you should keep in mind when you are looking at specific flower types. While butterflies are known as pollinators, they are primarily searching for food, and this is what should be focused on if you want to bring them to your garden.
Butterflies do not enjoy the shade that much, especially when they have fully matured. As such, you are going to want to search for flower species that require majority or full sun time so that they are the most appealing to butterflies searching for their food, and you will want to place these flowers in the part of your garden that receives the most sunlight.
Additionally, butterflies are the most active during the summer months, and you will need to keep this in mind as you are planning out when you should plant these butterfly-attracting plants. Most flower seeds will have information on the packet that explains how long the plant needs to go from its seed form to being a full-grown and blooming plant, and you should mark your calendar accordingly as you plant them.
Your goal with this will be to stagger out when you plant these flowers so that throughout the entirety of summer, there will be plants with flowers that are blooming and ready to go so that at any given point during the summer months, there are going to be flowers in your yard that have a nectar supply for butterflies to stop by and consume.
In short, while butterflies may be attracted to lights the same way that moths are, this is not going to be the optimal way to attract these bugs to your yard, as the brightness of the lights will be rendered useless during the daylight hours that butterflies are most active in.
Instead, you are going to want to focus on planting nectar-bearing flowers that butterflies of your desired species appreciate as well as providing host plants for butterflies to raise their young in so they have all the more reason to come to your yard.
Butterflies are welcome visitors and thankfully, making your yard appealing to them is a relatively easy process.