Q: How can I entice extra butterflies to my garden? Can milkweed develop within the North State or is it too sizzling/dry?

A: To create a garden that may present the perfect habitat for butterflies you want each nectar crops and host crops. The nectar crops present meals for the grownup butterflies and the host crops are the place they lay their eggs. The host crops are additionally the meals supply for the caterpillars as soon as they hatch.

To start out, I might first decide which butterflies are native to your space and make an inventory of their host crops. To seek out out this data go to the Calscape web site at bit.ly/3zSptT2 and kind your metropolis into the situation bar. The positioning will present an inventory of butterflies present in your location. For those who click on on every of one of many butterfly photographs on this record, you’ll see an inventory of the host crops for every species of butterfly.

When planting these host crops, be ready for them to be munched on. We now have had Gulf fritillary larvae fully demolish our ardour vine right here on the Shasta School arboretum each season.

A male monarch butterfly.

Along with offering host crops, nectar crops are additionally wanted to draw the grownup butterflies to your garden. It’s finest to supply a wide range of blooming crops so that there’s at all times one thing in bloom, offering a meals supply all season lengthy. Normally native crops and crops with a single layer of petals are finest; keep away from the double-blooming hybrid flowers as plant breeders might have eradicated a lot of the pollen or nectar in favor of different flower options. That stated, some frequent garden crops which are good nectar crops embody zinnias, lantana, butterfly bush, bottlebrush, Mexican sunflower, cosmos and aster.

Including a really shallow pan of water principally crammed with sand or pea gravel, or a fountain the place water simply seeps out of a rock, makes an excellent water supply for many pollinators. Butterflies get their water wants met from flower nectar, however they like to chill down on damp locations. Different bugs, particularly bees, want water.

I might additionally advocate creating a humid salt lick along with the shallow water supply. Do that by creating a humid spot within the yard and mixing a little bit of desk salt or wooden ash into the moist soil. Butterflies will collect right here for the salt and to chill down within the warmth of the day. This watering and cooling down space is finest positioned within the shade or it could get too sizzling in the summertime.

Different practices that may enhance the variety of butterflies present in your yard embody eliminating pesticide use at any time when doable, and offering shelter crops similar to shrubs and bushes that may present locations for the larvae to pupate.

Milkweed grows properly in Northern California. Actually, there ae 15 species of milkweed which are native to California. Milkweed is a high-quality nectar plant for honey bees and different bugs, and is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. The Xerces Society has a wonderful information to picking and rising milkweeds by area. Go to bit.ly/3wvXcB1 to obtain it in PDF format.

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You do need to plant the milkweed in an space the place it’s going to dry up within the fall to encourage the monarch to maneuver on to overwintering websites. Additionally, watch out the place you plant milkweed as it’s poisonous to livestock and pets that prefer to chew on crops.

The Shasta Grasp Gardeners Program might be reached by telephone at 530-242-2219 or e-mail mastergardener@shastacollege.edu. The gardener workplace is staffed by volunteers educated by the College of California to reply gardeners’ questions utilizing data primarily based on scientific analysis.

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