Experts agree, habitat for butterflies is being reduced. This means not only the places butterflies live and reproduce is be reduced, but the places they find food is also being reduced. The most important concerns for butterflies are the basic habitat components. Butterflies can be attracted by offering food, water and shelter. They need nectar plants and host plants.
Host plants (plants that the eggs are laid upon and that the caterpillar eats) seem to be the most important component. Nectar plants are flowering plants which provide a food source for the adult butterflies.
They will also feed from feeders. Butterflies, such as the Red Admiral, Tiger Swallowtail and Mourning Cloak in particular, will feed from a butterfly nectar feeder. The recommended nectar solution is 1 part sugar to 18 parts water. Butterflies are attracted to natural sources of food and the most successful means of feeding seems to be rotten fruit placed on top of the feeder. Bananas, pears, and other juicy fruits can be used.
Butterfly hibernation boxes can be used as a roost in the summer months. Trees, bushes, and many domestic and wildflowers, also, provide shelter.
Butterflies are a part of our ecosystem; they pollinate crops and plants and provide beauty and joy to many people’s lives. It may take years to establish a butterfly area; be patient and enjoy!
Kathy and her husband, John, own and operate the Wild Birds Unlimited, located in Billings and www.mywbu.com/billings.