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How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

While not everyone is a fan of bees, snakes, and beetles, most people can get behind butterflies in the garden. And while the aforementioned bugs are often good garden partners, butterflies have the added benefit of being beautiful! So if you’d like to attract good insects and bugs to your garden, but find yourself a bit bug-wary, consider starting with butterflies. We like to call them the gateway insect because once you start deliberately attracting good bugs to your garden, you can’t stop.

Yellow swallowtail butterfly on purple flower.

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Butterflies (and other insects) are useful in pollinating flowers, both ornamental and on vegetable plants. We had a very poor edible garden last year, and I’m convinced it was because of a lack of pollinators, so we set out to correct that by planting a pollinator garden with wildflowers and heirloom flowers. There are dozens of different butterflies, but here are the top three popular butterflies and what you can do to attract them to your garden.

Swallowtails

From the black swallowtail to the Eastern tiger swallowtail, this butterfly is among the largest and most colorful of all the butterflies. Adults love to eat perennial garden phlox, and the caterpillars favor fennel, parsley, common rue, and dill. Dill is a particular attraction, so be sure to plant enough for both the swallowtails and you!

Monarch Caterpillar on orange Milkweed

Monarchs

Loss of habitat has seriously endangered the monarch butterfly population, so let’s do our part to help them out. Milkweed is their food of choice, but be sure to plant a variety of milkweed that is native to your area. Their classic markings of orange, black, and spots of white make them easy to identify.

Gulf fritillary butterfly on a yellow flower.

Gulf Fritillaries

While gulf fritillaries are particularly easy to please, they seem to really enjoy passionflower in addition to purple coneflowers, pentas, maypops, and zinnias. These bright orange butterflies add such beauty and grace to any garden.


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Butterfly on purple flower with text, "Attract butterflies to your garden"
Butterfly sitting on a pink flower with text, "Create a Butterfly Garden"

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    • Hi Gary! Yes, you can mix Amend into the soil around your milkweed when larvae are present. Of course, you want to be careful not to disturb the larvae or pour soil directly on the plant. Our soil is organic and there is nothing in it that would hurt the butterfly larvae.

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