Tuesday, November 15, 2016

09 - 10 Tips for...

...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard

Petit nacré - Queen of Spain Fritillary - Issoria lathonia

Provide cover for overwintering butterflies and caterpillars

We tend to think of butterflies as summer insects. Ever wonder where they go in the winter months? Yes, monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico, but most of our butterflies survive the winter by going into a state of diapause, and simply hiding out until warm weather returns.
Butterflies and moths may overwinter in any of their four life stages, depending on the family or genus. Swallowtails usually wait out the winter weather in the pupal stage, tucked away inside a chrysalis in a protected location.
Many tiger moths, most notably the Isabella tiger moth which goes by the nickname woolly bear as a caterpillar, overwinter in the larval stage. A number of butterflies – the mourning cloak, the question mark, and the eastern comma among them – survive the cold in the adult stage, by simply tucking themselves under loose bark or hiding inside a tree cavity

Petit nacré - Queen of Spain Fritillary - Issoria lathonia

So what does this mean for your butterfly habitat? Think about how you can provide winter shelter for butterflies and moths in different life stages. Hint: don't rake all your leaves! Leave the fall leaf litter in at least part of your yard for hibernating caterpillars. Brush piles and stored firewood also makes excellent shelter for overwintering butterflies.
Oh, and don't bother with those butterfly houses they market for your garden. Butterflies rarely use them, but wasps do.

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