Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on earth and can be easily attracted to your garden.

July 8, 2015 | | Notes from the Wild

Great spangled fritillary

Great spangled fritillary

Farfalla, mariposa, papillon and butterfly are lovely monikers for one of Earth’s most popular creatures. And the Albanian word for butterfly? “Flutur.” I kid you not. Butterflies flutter in kaleidoscopic colour. They are gentle creatures – sun-loving, nectar-sipping, harmless – loved by everyone.

Well almost everyone. Jennifer, a former student of mine, would panic at the sight of a butterfly. I’ve long wondered about the root cause of her fear.

But Jennifer is the exception. Among the arthropod throngs that flourish on this planet, butterflies are far and away the most cherished.

Their life cycle serves as a metaphor for people who triumph despite humble beginnings. Butterflies begin life as rather sluggish grub-like caterpillars. Then, in a process, that positively beggars belief, they transform utterly. The power of flight graces them with mobility and freedom.

July in southern Ontario is prime time for butterflies. Seek them in sunny meadows and along woodland edges. Forks of the Credit Provincial Park with its fields and scrublands is a fine place for a butterfly outing. And today’s close-focus binoculars and high megapixel point-and-shoot cameras have made it easier to appreciate their beauty.

Butterfly food and nectar plants

Invite them into your world if you have garden space – even a balcony will do! The trick is to provide plants that offer nectar and/or forage for their caterpillars. Aster, milkweed, purple coneflower and the aptly named butterfly bush are choice butterfly plants.

black swallowtail featured great spangled fritillary monarch side view red admiral two red admiral red spotted purple one tiger swallowtail sipping minerals
Tiger swallowtail sipping minerals

Common large butterflies flying in July include fritillaries, red admirals, red-spotted purples, swallowtails and, most beloved of all, the monarchs. (Though sadly, there are far fewer monarchs than formerly.) https://www.inthehills.ca/2013/08/blogs/monarch-butterfly-rip-2026/

A host of smaller butterflies await discovery as well.

Butterfly watching is a fine excuse to get outdoors – the beauty of these creatures just might set your heart all aflutur!

More Info

Get outside and become a lepidopterist! A lepidopterist collects, classifies and observes moths and butterflies in a study known as lepidoptera.

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

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