Butterflies and Your Colorado Garden

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Butterflies are not only beautiful creatures but also important pollinators in Colorado’s ecosystems. With their populations facing threats from habitat loss and climate change, it’s crucial to understand how we can support and protect these delicate insects. In this post, we’ll explore butterfly statistics, their importance, how to attract them to your garden, and how to protect them.

Butterfly Statistics in Colorado

Colorado is home to a diverse range of butterfly species. Some popular species you may find in Colorado include the Black Swallowtail, Monarch, Weidmeyer’s Admiral, Painted Lady, Two-tailed Swallowtail, Clouded Sulfur and Cabbage White.  These butterflies play a vital role in pollinating native plants and contributing to the overall biodiversity of Colorado’s landscapes. However, like many other regions, Colorado has seen a decline in butterfly populations in recent years. Over the last two decades, there has been a 90% population decrease. Specific to Monarch Butterflies, in 2021 volunteers across 12 counties reported 124 sightings, which was a 180% increase from the average over the past seven years. While this increase is exciting, it’s far from the hundreds of thousands there used to be, according to Shiran Hershcovich, manager at Butterfly Pavilion. The National Wildlife Federation has a Butterfly Heroes program to bring awareness to the declining Monarch population. Click here to learn more.

The Importance of Butterflies

Butterflies are essential pollinators, transferring pollen from flower to flower as they feed on nectar. This process is crucial for the reproduction of many plants, including many food crops. Additionally, butterflies serve as indicators of environmental health, with their presence or absence reflecting changes in ecosystems.

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

  1. Plant Native Flowers: Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making them attractive to native butterflies. Some examples of native plants in Colorado that attract butterflies include milkweed, coneflowers, and butterfly bush.

  2. Provide Food Sources: Butterflies are attracted to nectar-rich flowers. Plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times to provide a continuous food source throughout the season. Some examples include Lilacs, Marigolds, Sunflowers, and Zinnias.

  3. Create a Butterfly-Friendly Environment: Provide shelter and resting places for butterflies by including rocks, logs, and other natural elements in your garden. Avoid using pesticides, as they can harm butterflies and their larvae.

  4. Consider Butterfly Host Plants: Some butterfly species lay their eggs on specific host plants. For example, monarch butterflies lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants. Black Swallowtail use dill and parsley, while Clouded Sulfur use alfalfa and clover. Including these host plants in your garden can attract specific butterfly species.

To find out more information about specific butterflies and their corresponding plants, click here.

365 Greenhouse & Eco-scapes; Colorado Springs, Colorado; landscapers; landscaping services; excavation services; butterfly garden

How to Protect Butterflies

  1. Avoid Pesticides: Chemical pesticides can be harmful to butterflies and other beneficial insects. They can not only kill caterpillars, but also butterflies if they rest on pesticide sprayed plants. Instead, use natural or organic methods to control pests in your garden.

  2. Provide Water: Butterflies need water for drinking and reproducing. Create shallow puddles or a butterfly bath with wet sand or mud to provide them with a water source.

  3. Create Habitat: Preserve or create butterfly habitat by planting native plants and providing shelter and resting places. Participate in local conservation efforts to protect butterfly populations. 

Butterflies are not only beautiful additions to our gardens but also important pollinators that contribute to the health of Colorado’s ecosystems. By understanding their needs and taking steps to attract and protect them, we can help ensure that these enchanting insects continue to grace our landscapes for generations to come.

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