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How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

A butterfly garden is one that provides these majestic creatures with everything they need — food, water, sun — in a sheltered and hospitable environment. With a bit of thought and a few changes, you can turn your backyard into a gorgeous garden and natural butterfly habitat. Here's how.

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Plant Ample Nectar Sources

Butterflies' main objective is to find nectar, their food, so you can attract them by filling your garden with flowers rich in it. Nectar-rich flowers include aster, butterfly bush, goldenrod, lavender, lilac, milkweed, mint, sage, snapdragon, zinnia, and others. Butterflies will be most encouraged to take up residence in your garden if you space your plantings out for continuous bloom, so one plant starts blooming when another stops, providing them with constant sources of nectar and feeding them through all life stages, from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly.

Focus on Vibrant Colors

To really grab butterflies' attention, stick to the colors these ultraviolet-light-seeing creatures love: red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple. Specifically, look for flowers in these colors that are flat-topped or clustered and those that have short flower tubes, as these are their favorites.

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Provide Sunny Resting Spots

Butterflies love the sun. They will only eat when under its rays (so place flowers accordingly), and they also use it to warm and orient themselves. Provide sheltered (read: safe from the wind), sunny places such as flat rocks or fence posts for them to bask and warm their wings for flight.

Don't Forget Water

Like all creatures, butterflies need water. They love damp, sandy, or muddy puddles where they can congregate to quench their thirst and extract nutrients. You can mimic these puddles by filling a shallow bowl or pan with damp sand or soil and placing it in your garden.

Avoid All Pesticides

These harsh chemicals not only kill unwanted garden pests, but they'll also wipe out butterflies in the larval and adult stages.

Image Source: Shutterstock
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