Build a Butterfly Garden

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Step 1: Host Plants

We set out to create a garden as a habitat perfect for butterflies to thrive! We wanted to keep Florida butterflies in existence and create a beautiful outdoor space. First step was to plant the host plants- we planted passion vine, passiflora, dutchman's pipe vnie, coontie, birthwort, and milkweed. Each of these plants has a unique relationship as a host plant for a different species of caterpillar & butterfly. In the seedling stage, we have dill & fennel, as well as candlebush, two more host plants for other caterpillars.

Step 2: Nature Did It's Work - Caterpillars!

We started seeing butterfly eggs and soon after, caterpillars on our host plants! A butterfly will only lay it's eggs on it's host plant, the caterpillar will only live on, and eat, one certain host plant for it's species of butterfly. Atala caterpillar on the Coontie. Polydamas swallowtail on the dutchman's pipe vine & birthwort, zebra longwing on the passiflora, gult fritilary on the passion vine, monarch on the milkweed, barred sulpher will eat the candlebush, and giant swallowtail will eat the dill and fennel.

Step 3: Cocoons!

After about 2 weeks, we started seeing cocoons. The pupa stage of the caterpillar also lasts about 2 weeks. in this stage usually the caterpillar will crawl off his host plant and the fun part is finding all the cocoons all over the garden!

Step 4: Butterflies!

Results! The butterflies emerge from their cocoons and after a few hours fly away! Success! And the cycle starts all over again.

Step 5: Nectar Flowers

Last and certainly not least, we planted nectar plants for the butterflies. These are simply a variety of nectar flowering plants which the butterflies can feed off of. Some are lantana, tropical sage, milkweed, bleeding heart vine, mexican flame vine, passion vine, blue porterweed, and others. These feed and attract the butterflies while they are looking for their host plant.

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    6 Discussions

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    ArtisanEclectic

    4 months ago

    Great 'ible Lucas. I live in south Florida so I have seen all of the plants and butterflies you've shown here. In fact we have a park nearby that has a butterfly garden in it. I've photographed Zebra Longwings laying eggs there.

    I just have one critique though, and some may say it's not important, but it is. Butterflies don't come from a cocoon. They come from a Chrysalis. There is a difference. Moths form a cocoon from silk and sometimes add twigs and leaf litter to camouflage it.

    Butterflies form a chrysalis when they have their last molt as a caterpillar. I have actually watched and photographed Monarchs changing. They cement themselves upside down to a twig or in this case, the bottom of a flowerpot rim, then they shed their skin for the last time, and as they do, their new skin hardens into a shell. It's really fascinating to watch.

    In the photo below, the chrysalis is half formed. The caterpillar is hanging head down and the molt began at the head. The green lower half is the newly formed chrysalis. The upper part is the old skin of the caterpillar. (The long thin part hanging over the green is the caterpillar's antenna.) It will fall away once it reaches the top. The whole time, the caterpillar is thrashing and squirming around until the shell hardens. Like I said, it's REALLY Fascinating to watch!

    Sorry for such a long post. I didn't intend to go into so much detail. But it's a really cool subject, and I hope you get to witness these things and more in your own garden. Thanks again for the great subject matter. Also, I voted for you in the Gardening contest.

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    Penolopy Bulnick

    4 months ago

    I didn't know you could encourage a butterfly garden like this! Thanks for sharing :)

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    AnandM54

    6 months ago

    Wow.... Great work !!

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    AussieAlf

    6 months ago

    Good on you Lucas job well done. I used to do this as well when i was young. So many people dismiss these little guys of nature without realising just how important they are to the environment and our well being.
    Cheers..

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    jessyratfink

    6 months ago

    That's awesome! Loved looking at all the pictures :D