Copyright 2000 by Naomi Mathews
We live in an ever-changing world where nothing remains static. Each moment in time brings with it changes. Many of these changes are very conspicuous, others extremely subtle. Some changes are positive and very beneficial to our worlds environment. Conversely, there are those that produce extremely negative and destructive results.
For the record, I have not exactly been an environmentalist throughout my lifetime. This is something Ive always been content to leave to the experts. However, the more Ive been involved with Nature through gardening in recent years, the more Ive realized there is a small part I can play in the grand scheme of things.
I can help bring back more of those magical flying flowers that have enchanted me ever since I was a child. Better yet, I can have fun doing it!
Does this sound a bit presumptuous on my part? Perhaps it may to some readers. I realize not everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon to help increase the butterfly population of the world. However, for those of you who would like to, this is my invitation to you to climb aboard. Lets work together to help accomplish this exciting and challenging endeavor.
Your first question may very well be, Exactly what can one little butterfly do to benefit our worlds environment, just flitting from petal to petal in flower gardens? Strange as it may sound, butterflies really do play a critical role in our worlds environment. Butterflies were created in the beginning. . . to help perform the unique task of plant pollination. Granted, there are many other pollination processes, but perhaps none as remarkable, magical, and completely natural as that of the butterfly.
Research has also proven that butterflies are very responsive to environmental changes. For example, when environmental changes are negative, these changes often adversely affect the natural habitats of butterflies, resulting in the decrease or even destruction of their nectar sources. Subsequently, the butterfly population decreases, and quite possibly some species could become extinct. Therefore, the butterfly actually acts as an important gauge for those researchers interested in how our worlds environment is behaving--or, misbehaving.
What other roles do butterflies play, if any? you may be wondering.
Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife
This National Wildlife Federation book provides over a dozen step-by-step projects for families to do together, making getting back to nature easy, educational, and fun.
Aesthetically, they add beauty, fascination, and magic to our world. As for me, Ive always been a firm believer that butterflies were created simply to entertain Adam and Eve in their lush and lovely Garden of Eden. But I must admit, over the years Ive often wondered, Which came first? The butterfly, or the lowly, fuzzy caterpillar? Kind of like the ongoing chicken and egg debate, you know?
Forgive me . . . my thoughts digressed a bit. Let me return to the subject of bringing back the butterflies.
It is a given that our environment has undergone plenty of negative changes since day one, and for reasons much too lengthy and scientific for me to explain. Again leaving this complex problem to the experts, let me pose this simple question to my readers.
How can you help?
The answer is really quite simple. One of the most fulfilling things you as a gardener can do is to create a unique butterfly garden of your own. "What if I happen to live in the middle of downtown Manhattan with no dirt in sight?" you ask. Then perhaps you can help restore or improve a butterfly habitat in a countryside area near you. And, taking a pleasant Sunday drive to the country with the family will do wonders for you as well!
Should you decide to plant a butterfly garden, it is important to learn which species of butterflies are native to your area. Fortunately, you can easily do some research for this useful data right here on the Internet. A great place to begin is at Butterflies of North America. Here, you will find a map with information on butterfly species native to each state.
After pinpointing this information, you will want to familiarize yourself with the best Butterfly Nectar Plants to grow that will draw butterflies to your particular locale. Also on this web site, you will learn which host plants are best suited for those butterflies larvae to feed upon. Selecting both nectar source plants and caterpillar host plants is crucial if you really want to have a true Butterfly Garden.
With all of this super information at hand, you should now be ready to proceed with the best gardening plan to suit you and the butterflies. At the same time, you will be helping to restore those magical flying flowers to your area.
The beauty of butterfly gardening is that there are so many species gardeners can attract. Did you know there are more than 10,000 known species just in North America? Not to mention another 100,000 or more throughout the world. So, whether you live in the tropical states, the New England coastal region, the central plains, the beautiful Ozarks, the lovely Pacific Northwest, or even Alaska, you should not lack for butterflies to attract.
An excellent source of help in Designing Gardens for Butterfliesis outlined on this site. Be sure to learn all you can before you begin, as it will pay you in "jewels" later on.
Every butterfly gardener needs to be well informed about Natural Insect Control before planting either nectar or host plants. Chemical pesticides are totally taboo for use in true butterfly gardens. These chemicals are sure to further deplete the butterfly population, as they kill the caterpillar larvae in the process. Always remember--no caterpillars, no butterflies!
But what about those pesky aphids, spider mites, cutworms, and other harmful plant-eating insects? you cry out.
Never fear, help is near. And, here is where you will be doing our worlds environment a HUGE favor!
Now is the time to introduce yourself to Natural Pesticides to save the butterfly, the caterpillar, and possibly yourself!
Next, get acquainted with the various excellent Cultural and Physical Controlsavailable. Another great option is The Predator Patrol method of controlling unwanteds in your garden. You may be surprised to learn how this method works!
Remember, you too have been placed on Earth with a role to play. It is one of stewardship, be it of the land, the sea, the air, or the sky. For every butterfly gardener having the true desire to see more magical jewels of the garden return, I urge you to jump on the bandwagon with me to HELP BRING BACK THE BUTTERFLIES!