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

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MARCH 30: Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy program has been expanded

Former Surrey Eagle home from ‘quiet, empty’ Italy after hockey season cancelled

Delta-born Anthony Bardaro has spent last three seasons playing professionally in Europe

White Rock Tritons stay sharp despite uncertain future of BC Premier Baseball League season

Semiahmoo Peninsula squad recently returned from truncated trip to Arizona

GREEN SPACE: COVID-19 crisis has shown that people are capable of change

Now is the perfect time to create more sustainable habits

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

24,000 Canadian Forces members ready to be deployed to help with COVID-19 response

No direct requests made by premiers yet, national defence minister says

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

Crucial details of Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy program expected today

The government has rolled out a bailout package totalling more than $200 billion

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected

Comprehensive world news update: Lockdown in UK showing signs of hope

Most Read

l -->