Date 06/29/2016

By Pat Pearson, Habitat Coordinator

The truth is, I didn’t know the answer to the above question until recently. I was visiting a website about a butterfly garden, and noticed what had been done to help visiting butterflies. I’ll tell you about it in case you want to do it, or something like it.

I did know that butterflies need a source of water to sip with their long proboscis, and that they also need salts and minerals as well. Nectar is supplied from the flowers they visit. If and when a butterfly lands on you, it seems like a magic thing to have happen, but it is probably just looking to have a little sip of salt from your perspiration.

The butterfly puddler I saw on the net was very cute and decora­tive. The puddler is a shallow round dish, with medium sized rocks piled in it, with some colorful plastic but­terflies on sticks embedded in and supported by the rocks. There was a potted plant nestled among the rocks, which was in bloom and supplying nectar. There were also some pieces of sliced, very ripe fruits, a banana and some oranges, all in about a half inch of water. What I wasn’t seeing was any butterflies using this puddler. Thinking that perhaps I was being too picky, I launched an internet search for other puddlers, and there were more of them than I ever imagined. I’ll give you the best of the informa­tion I picked up, so you can create a better puddler, and if you do, I think they will come.

The round dish, either a pot saucer or a plastic dish, about 18 inches in diameter is ideal, either on the ground or elevated on top of an upside-down pot. A layer of sand on the bottom, perhaps an inch and covered with a layer of organic fertilizer or compos­ted manure will supply the salts and minerals needed. The male butterflies particularly need the minerals for breeding. A layer of pebbles on top of all that will give the butterflies a dry place to stand and warm up in the air. Then, water should be added slowly, up to the level of the bottom of the pebble layer, and checked every few days to keep it from evaporating away. Don’t let the water be too high, as butterflies can actually drown, and if the level is kept lower than the pebbles, mosquitoes won’t be able to breed in just the sand and mud.

That’s all there is to do. Of course, if you want, you can add some color­ful butterflies on sticks, and a potted nectar plant, and some fruit that’s a little past human consumption. I’m going to make a little sign to plant on a stick, that says “Welcome, All Macho Butterflies,” and wait to see what happens.

Happy Gardening


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