Topic: Lepidoptera

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πŸ”— Butterfly gardening

πŸ”— Lepidoptera

Butterfly gardening is a way to create, improve, and maintain habitat for lepidopterans including butterflies, skippers, and moths. Butterflies have four distinct life stagesβ€”egg, larva, chrysalis, and adult. In order to support and sustain butterfly populations, an ideal butterfly garden contains habitat for each life stage.

Butterfly larvae, with some exceptions such as the carnivorous harvester (Feniseca tarquinius), consume plant matter and can be generalists or specialists. While butterflies like the painted lady (Vanessa cardui) are known to consume over 200 plants as caterpillars, other species like the monarch (Danaus plexippus), and the regal fritillary (Speyeria idalia) only consume plants in one genus, milkweed and violets, respectively.

As adults, butterflies feed mainly on nectar, but they have also evolved to consume rotting fruit, tree sap, and even carrion. Supporting nectarivorous adult butterflies involves planting nectar plants of different heights, color, and bloom times. Butterfly bait stations can easily be made to provide a food source for species that prefer fruit and sap. In addition to food sources, windbreaks in the form of trees and shrubs shelter butterflies and can provide larval food and overwintering grounds. "Puddling" is a behavior generally done by male butterflies in which they gather to drink nutrients and water and incorporating a puddling ground for butterflies will enhance a butterfly garden. While butterflies are not the only pollinator, creating butterfly habitat also creates habitat for bees, beetles, flies, and other pollinators

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