Butterfly sightings are rarer these days

BY THE BAY:Butterflies are disappearing fast

Creating a butterfly garden will help restore these colourful pollinators to the landscape, writes Anne Murray.

  • Jul. 22, 2013 7:00 p.m.

How long is it since you saw a butterfly?

These emblems of summer are fast disappearing from the landscape.

Pesticides have taken their toll and natural food plants are lost when wild habitat is replaced with urban subdivisions.

Creating a butterfly garden will help restore these colourful pollinators to the landscape. An added bonus is that some of the flowers suited to butterflies also attract hummingbirds.

To bring butterflies to a garden, there must be food plants for the larval, or caterpillar, stage of their life cycle, as well as nectar-rich flowers for the adults.

Caterpillars are voracious but often picky eaters. Spring Azures relish ocean spray and spirea, while Mourning Cloaks need willows.

Planting a patch of stinging nettles in a tub or out of the way corner of the garden could entice Red Admirals and Satyr Commas. Plants of the mustard and cabbage family attract Sara Orange Tip, Cabbage White (the commonest butterfly, yet non-native), and Mustard White.

The caterpillar of our largest, most striking butterfly – the Western Tiger Swallowtail – feeds on poplar and willow leaves. Apple trees are a food source for the sphinx hawk moth.

Perennial flowering plants that are rich in nectar will provide food for adult butterflies.

Naturescape BC recommends lilac, mock orange, phlox, mallow, pearly everlasting, chrysanthemum, stonecrop, zinnia, asters and herbs, such as mint, rosemary and sage.

The large, purple blossoms of the buddleia bush are a favourite for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Other double-duty options are bee balm, elderberry and columbine.

The life cycle of butterflies is most remarkable, going from egg, to caterpillar, to pupa, before metamorphosing into an adult.

Eggs are often laid under leaves on the larval food plants, so the caterpillars can start munching as soon as they hatch.

Caterpillars range in colour from pale green to brightly striped, and from smooth to spiky, depending on the species.

Eventually they stop eating and turn into a pupa. This stage can look like a bird dropping, a bit of twig or even a shiny gold nugget.

One morning, the pupa breaks open and a butterfly emerges. Slowly it spreads its damp and folded wings, drying them in the sun. This is the most amazing sight, seldom witnessed in our modern world. The perfect embodiment of summer then takes flight, bringing colour and beauty to the garden.

Time to get planting; don’t forget the stinging nettles!

Anne Murray, the author of two nature books, writes monthly in the Peace Arch News – www.natureguidesbc.com

 

 

Just Posted

Minor injuries after South Surrey student struck in school crosswalk

Collision ‘a reminder to drivers, pedestrians to take safety seriously’

Rec centre staff honoured for their help to revive teen who collapsed in weight room

BC Emergency Health Services presented Vital Link awards to four City of Surrey employees on Sunday

Surrey tops list of most delayed, congested TransLink bus routes

TransLink says delays are costing $75 million a year

Once shy, Surrey maker of cakes finds confidence to show skills on TV and at big events

Raveena Oberoi of Just Cakes Bakeshop is a guest speaker at Vancouver Fall Home Show this week

North Delta students collect over 16,000 items during annual one-night food drive

Items collected during Delview Secondary’s annual Thanks 4 Giving benefit Deltassist, Surrey Food Bank

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

VIDEO: Depth and scoring lacking for Vancouver Giants this season: Coach

G-Men defeated on home ice Sunday by Victoria – next up Everett on Friday

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

Most Read

l -->