Did you know that butterfly wings are actually covered with thousands of miniature scales? Overlapping in rows, the scales are arranged in colorful designs unique to each species, bestowing the marvelous butterfly with its extraordinary beauty. Each time we see a butterfly, most of us can't help but smile, though, many of us are ignorant of the fact the adult butterfly has a very short life span. From egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly can take a very long time, some species remaining in the chrysalis or pupa stage for more than a year, though some may emerge from this stage after only a few days. And then, once the adult butterfly emerges, some species will live just a short week or two, while just a few will live as long as 18 months, a long life for a butterfly, but unbelievably short in the scheme of things.
So, though any one or more of the species in your particular area may only be flying for a week, the magical beauty, nevertheless, brings a smile to your face, encouraging you to grow flower gardens to attract them, provide safe housing for them and to ultimately preserve them in photos, sharing them with your friends, family, and through the wonder of social media, with the world! We have created a group called Butterfly Enthusiast on Facebook, a place for novices and experts and just plain butterfly lovers to meet and greet and share. One visit will make you want to capture your own butterflies on film or digitally. This group is a way to enjoy butterflies year round, to learn and teach about the various species and to test your own camera phone or digital camera prowess.
We welcome you to post your photos and stories. As you'll see, if you are a butterfly enthusiast, you are definitely not alone! We encourage you to plant your flowers with an eye to the sky and attracting the butterflies. In most instances, the same bushes, shrubs or flowers that bring the delightful butterfly to your yard will also beckon to the hummingbird and to the honey bee, a species on the decline that is absolutely critical to the pollination of our farmer's crops and even to the fruit trees, flowers and vegetables growing in your own yard.
It's really quite easy to attract butterflies to your yard! And keep in mind you also want to plant what the butterfly caterpillars will feed on, that second stage of the transformative life cycle of the butterfly. Planting things like Dill, Lupine and Sunflowers will ensure any number of different species of butterfly caterpillars visit your yard, most of which will stay close, form their chrysalis and make their transformation to return as the glorious butterfly if you plant simply their favorite plants, like Columbine, Dianthus, Phlox or Zinnia, or a whole host of others! Some plants, like Hollyhocks, Heliotrope, Beard Tongue and Snapdragons, will provide a home for both the caterpillars and the butterflies, definitely ensuring a large butterfly population for your yard!
In addition, we highly recommend you install a butterfly house or two. It's only fair that if you plant to lure the butterfly to your yard, you also provide shelter from the elements and from predators. These attractive houses serve double-duty in your garden, providing safe haven for those beautiful flutterbys and adding personality and a conversation piece to your landscape. How many people do YOU know who have butterfly houses? The kids think these are the greatest things since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
Don't forget! Visit our butterfly group page and join in the fun!
The butterfly and caterpillar photos above are all courtesy of members of
Butterfly Enthusiasts on Facebook.