Create a Butterfly Habitat in your backyard

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Shoreline’s 1st Annual “Where Our Wild Things Are” Tour encourages us to Create a Butterfly Habitat

By Jennifer Rotermund

Shoreline’s 1st Annual “Where Our Wild Things Are” Habitat Tour will be Saturday, July 10 from 10 am - 4 pm. There will be mini-learning experiences at each of the seven habitats on the tour, which are designed to demonstrate how easy and fun it is to create a beautiful sanctuary for wildlife in your own yard.

The tour is free of charge, open to the public and begins at Calvin Presbyterian Church, 18826 3rd Ave NW, Shoreline 98177, where maps and directions for the tour will be available. For more information, visit WOWTA’s website or search WOWTA on Facebook.

Whether it’s a photograph, a child’s drawing or even a basic silhouetted outline, the image of a butterfly is iconic. When they enter our garden, their ability to fly gracefully from plant to plant on wings as delicate as fine tissue paper is mystifying. To learn that we’re losing butterfly populations due to the degradation and destruction of healthy butterfly habitat is devastating. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to protect butterflies by providing a nurturing habitat for them in your very own yard. Your reward for doing this? You get the pleasure of being graced by their presence while being a good steward on their behalf.

Here are some simple ways you can create a butterfly habitat in your yard:

1. Find a Non-Windy Space: Think about it; if you were a butterfly, how well would you fly in the wind? Find a part of your yard that stays relatively calm or is protected from wind being funneled through it.

2. Install Plants that Attract and Provide Food for Butterflies: Native plants are ideal because they are low maintenance, adapted to our region, and provide nectar for butterflies at just the right time of year. Also, look for plants that grow large clusters of brightly colored flowers that bloom for long periods of time (i.e. Daisies, Asters, Black Eyed Susan, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy,’ Abelia, Heliotrope, etc)

3. Provide Water by Building a “Puddling Station:” A butterfly doesn’t have a mouth and a tongue; it uses a delicate, straw-like tube, called a proboscis, to take up tiny volumes of nectar and water. A “Puddling Station” safely provides water (and additional minerals) in just the right form for extraction through a butterfly’s proboscis. To build one, partially fill a pan with course sand then keep it wet with water just up to the surface of the sand – this is your Puddling Station. Place this in your designated butterfly habitat and butterflies will be able to extract both water and minerals from the wet sand.

4. Provide Warm Places to Rest: Butterflies need to rest frequently and use the sun for orientation. Place flat stones in the sunniest areas of your butterfly habitat.

5. Provide Shelter from the Cold: Some butterflies will over winter in your yard, when provided with the right place. Dense shrubs and trees, such as Willows and Ceanothus, make good spaces for butterflies to over winter in their egg or caterpillar form. A fully developed butterfly may overwinter in the peeling bark of trees or in an old log.

6. Avoid Herbicides and Pesticides: These chemically-based products are non-specific and will kill both pests and beneficial insects. They should never be used in or around your beautiful butterfly habitat.

Photos from Wikmedia Commons

Jennifer Rotermund is the Lead Gardener for Garden of Weedin’ (a local pesticide-free garden maintenance company), owner of Gaiaceous Gardens (an urban vegetable and herb farm and certified wildlife habitat in Shoreline) and Habitat Steward. 


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