By Mitsi Chorak
We at the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge love butterflies and pollinators! We have studied them, planted specifically for them, and have even given workshops for those who share our passion! But there is more to this story; these hardworking butterflies, bees, moths, hummingbirds and other tiny creatures assist in the reproduction of our flowering plants and food crops. They are indicators of healthy environments. In the last few years there has been a decline of these beneficial pollinators due primarily to decreased natural habitat and the use of chemicals, so we need to do our best to help improve our environment by creating gardens that are appealing to butterflies and pollinators.
It is important to know the difference between butterfly gardens and pollinator gardens. Both gardens have flowering plants whose flowers are attractive to pollinators. The plants in both gardens provide nectar, pollen and shelter. Butterflies also require a “host” plant to support the life cycle of butterflies. Butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of these plants and their larvae (caterpillars) will feed on the foliage. And don’t worry—the foliage will regrow!
So get excited about your butterfly/ pollinator habitats and plant a garden! Here are some elements to include:
- Install plants in masses of bright colors and sweet-smelling fragrances.
- Situate plants of similar colors together.
- Plant for blooms in different seasons to attract a variety of pollinators.
- Provide “host” plants to provide food to the butterfly larvae (caterpillars).
- Provide a shallow source of clean water.
- Add rocks and stones to absorb the sun’s heat so butterflies can perch on their warmth.
- Incorporate native plants to attract native pollinators.
- Avoid the use of chemicals and use natural compost.
I have selected several nectar-rich plants to help you begin:
|Black-eyed Susan||Goldenrod||Marigold||Shasta Daisy|
“Host” plants that attract larvae are Swamp milkweed that is a major food source of Monarch caterpillars and a source of nectar for many butterfly species. There are many other varieties of milkweed available in many colors.
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge (LLFB) will soon be installing a Visitor’s Kiosk. One side panel of the Kiosk will be devoted to identifying the life cycles of butterflies. The LLFB is also a certified Monarch watch Waystation, an intentionally managed garden providing food and habitat for the Monarch butterfly population. We plant milkweed for nourishment and shelters are provided by a variety and density of plantings. We offer sunny, protected spots and water that attracts butterflies.
The LLFB is a special place to visit, with plenty of flowering spaces, art created by local artists and garden volunteers, and places to sit and enjoy it all. Come and take a walk in our beautiful garden!
Mitsi Chorak is chairperson of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge committee.