Sunday, June 05, 2011

If You Build It, They Will Come (Hopefully)

I've been out in my new butterfly garden nearly every day - at the very least, to fill the birdbath (Coolest birdbath ever, btw - got it at a home store and put a solar fountain in it. Moving water attracts butterflies and hummingbirds - and other visitors, as you'll see). Being in the garden is therapeutic, and also a nice breather to turn to as another creative outlet when I'm not writing. Most of the seeds I sowed early in the spring seem to have survived. Some have begun to flourish. Others, not so much, which may be due in part to the insane rainstorms we have been getting. So, I bit the bullet and bought some live plants.

I admit to going a little nuts ... and I am still not done tinkering. :)

The terra-cotta saucer you see in the background is filled with wet sand. Several species of butterflies will engage in a behavior called "puddling," where they will land on wet sand and sip at nutrients in it, especially salts, which they can't get from nectar. Interestingly enough, this is exclusively a male butterfly thing. You can do something similar in your own yard by burying a dish, pan, or bucket to its rim, filling it with sand and enough water to dampen it, then sprinkling a pinch of non-iodized salt over it. Just be sure to keep it moist.

Besides salts, butterflies also like a lot of things that might gross you out: rotten fruit, carrion, and manure. Boy, that sounds just ... well, it's icky, is what it is, but hey, I'm not a butterfly. I opted out of adding those to my garden anyway. LOL

So far, I have seen one cabbage white butterfly flitting across my lawn (though I think he was more interested in the clover than the butterfly garden). The birds are visiting my birdbath daily, in particular some house sparrows who nest in a birdhouse next door. I have more varieties of insect and spider than I know what to do with, including this potter wasp who surprised me while he was having a sip of water from the wet stone at the edge of my birdbath:

I also noticed a spider carring her egg sac across the ground, presumably to bring it somewhere safe. That was pretty cool - I had never seen a spider "move house" before. So far, no butterflies visiting the garden itself, that I have noticed yet, but I have high hopes. I have provided some caterpillar host plants, and lots of nectar plants for the adults. I hope it's a veritable buffet by summer.

Meanwhile, I'll be the one doing the enjoying.

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