The Butterfly Garden project

Many people feed birds in their garden during winter time. Give it a shot, and do the same with butterflies in the summer.

Assuming you have a spot with some direct sunshine you can try attracting butterflies through a series of preparations. I’m going to experiment a bit on my own, trying to set up the ultimate butterfly attraction.

Obviously, an important factor for success is the location. If your garden is downtown it will be more difficult compared to living on the countryside (where lots of butterflies will fly by your garden anyway). We got our own small backyard close enough to nature to take the challenge.

This section, the butterfly garden, is about attracting as many butterflies and different species to visit our garden as possible. Specially selected flowers, feeding stations and food plants will hopefully generate results.

I can’t make promises, but the coming season will show how lucky I get.

Give it a try…

Try visiting your local garden centre on a sunny day. Assuming they keep flowers outside you can watch if any of the flowers around seem to attract butterflies better than others (see photo below).

Source: The Butterfly Playbook

Related photos

Introducing butterflies as hobby

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) 1

Starting with butterflies as hobby is easy and simple. Start by taking a walk outside and spot some of these beautiful creatures.

Enjoy adult butterflies flying by and visiting flowers, or have a look at their food plant if you find any of their often fascinating caterpillars. Settle with observing a variety of species in nature, or go for a closer look at their metamorphosis by raising caterpillars at home.

Take your hobby to vacations abroad, start rearing a caterpillar for learning about nature, and get a real close-up of an adult butterfly while watching it hatch. Set your goals what species you want to find, and make it a challenge to spot them in nature. You can also just set up your garden in a butterfly-friendly way, and let nature take it’s own course.

This section is introducing butterflies as a hobby. Related posts will introduce why butterflying could be the ideal activity for you.

Did you know…

The life cycle, or metamorphosis, of a butterfly consists of four stages: Egg, caterpillar, pupa and the adult butterfly. Though we mostly perceive adult butterflies, it may take an individual up to a decade to reach that last stage while spending the majority of life as a caterpillar or pupa.

Source: Murtosaari (J) & Mäntynen (P), 2013. Perhosten vuosi, Minerva Kustannus Oy, pp. 19-23

Searching for caterpillars

To be able to raise butterflies you first need to find the caterpillars (or even better, eggs). Caterpillars may be found by coincidence. However, normally you will have to search with no guarantee of finding what you’re looking for.

I call this search the caterpillar quest. It’s one of the most rewarding activities related to butterflies. Some species are easy to find. For instance, caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) are common, and easy to recognize. But what about species which are rarer, or use better disguise?

Finding caterpillars is a challenge, a mission you need to complete before getting to the actual phase of raising. And particularly this challenge got me hooked to butterflies. It’s mind cleansing to hit nature with the knowledge on what the caterpillar looks like, what plant it feeds on and where that plant can be found.

You’ll often have to accept defeats before getting lucky. However, the rush you’ll get once you find the object you were after is well worth the effort.

This section, the caterpillar quest, is about my attempts to get lucky. It will also be about failure, and hopefully sometimes about finding caterpillars of species I was not expecting to find.

To share my learning I will provide knowledge and tips to find caterpillars on your own. Some posts will focus on introducing caterpillar hotspots in a series of photos, also showing from the distance what signs you need to recognize.

Give it a try…

If you want to try raising caterpillars why don’t you start with a species that is common and easy to find? Try Small Tortoiseshells since their food plant, nettles, are also easy to obtain.

Source: The Butterfly Playbook