The monarch butterflies are returning from Texas and Mexico to northern climes. To attract them and other butterflies to your yard, you need to offer them with food and water.
Only a few plants provide both food for the caterpillar and nectar for the adults. Plant groups that can be used for both include asters, cherry, clover, marigold, milkweed, Queen Anne’s lace and thistle.
If monarch butterflies are your favorite, be sure to have milkweed growing in your yard. It’s the only plant monarch caterpillars can eat. The poisonous milkweed also provides some natural defense. The monarch, either in its caterpillar or butterfly stages, needs no camouflage. Predators know it’s a poisonous snack!
Black swallowtail butterflies like fennel and parsley. Birch and elm trees attract mourning cloak, white admiral and question mark butterflies.
Some butterflies are attracted to mud puddles where they get both moisture and nutrients. To create your own mud puddle, place a bird bath top or glass baking dish on the ground. Fill one-quarter of it with sand or a mix of mud and water.
Good annuals for attracting butterflies include cosmos, lantanas, nicotiana, petunias and zinnias.