|The Gulf fritillary is a frequent visitor to my garden|
|Passionvine is a fritillary favorite|
|Monarch laying eggs on milkweed|
I am a butterfly novice, but there are so many wonderful references available from people who are true experts in the subject. For those who want to delve deeper I recommend these for starters:
Butterfly Gardening in Florida
(University of Florida IFAS publication: an excellent overview!)
Florida Butterfly Gardening
Native Habitats for Monarch Butterflies in South Florida
(A must-read for all who love monarchs because of the concerns it raises about scarlet milkweed, the milkweed species most commonly sold and which most of us rely on to attract monarchs. Without a readily-available alternative, I am going to keep my scarlet milkweed, but I'll be on the lookout for other varieties too.)
A wonderful Blog about the Butterfly Garden at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa.
In my garden I am learning as I go (aren't we all?). Last year we so enjoyed all the monarchs that came to our milkweed that I decided to see what else we could entice. This Spring I planted parsley for black swallowtails and cassia for sulfurs. Our first black swallowtail cat is now dining on the parsley, but the cassias have so far been ignored by the sulfur,.
|Our first black swallowtail baby|
I'm also making more of an effort to learn about and provide a variety of nectar plants for butterflies of many species. I have really boosted the number of native wildflowers in my garden, thanks partly to gifts from friends, and now have mistflower, salvia, ironweed, elephant's foot, purple coneflower, horsemint, scorpion tail, blanket flower, narrow-leaved sunflowers, yellowtop, greeneyes and ironweed. Listing all of them has made me realize how much I seem to be trending toward native plants in my butterfly gardens.
Many of our native trees also are excellent nectar sources, including the Chickasaw plum and Walter's viburnum. I don't really see butterflies on mine, but the bees are crazy for the small white Viburnum blossom each Spring -- and the even smaller, but equally irresistible East Palatka holly blooms.
While on vacation recently in coastal North Carolina, I saw a lovely little butterfly garden in a boutique shopping village, with a sign identifying it as a "Certified Monarch Waystation." When I got home and looked this up, I discovered it is a program of Monarch Watch, sponsored by the University of Kansas. The program encourages homeowners, schools and businesses to create an oasis for monarchs during their long migration to Mexico. You fill out an application stating which of the monarch essentials you have provided and, if you qualify, you receive a certificate designating your habitat as a "Monarch Waystation." The certification costs $16 and there is an additional fee if you want the very handsome aluminum sign to place in your garden. My cynical husband views this program as just another way to part silly old me from my hard-earned money, but I think it is a great way to draw attention to the beautiful monarchs and show that you are giving nature a hand.
|Our newest monarch chrysalis, draped in raindrops|
What are your favorite butterfly plants? And, how many of you are seeing zebra longwings (our state butterfly) in your yards? I have not seen any for more than a year in mine. Am wondering if the severe winter of 2010 had anything to do with that.