Backyard Buddies
Butterflies

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Butterflies

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Butterflies are a welcome addition to any garden and like many native buddies, need our help to make sure they remain regular guests. Butterflies are cold-blooded and need plenty of warm sunshine. You may see them in early spring with wings wide open to the warming sun. Or you may see them just touch the top of a bird bath or pond.

Purple, red, orange, and yellow flowers attract butterflies. With a few simple changes, your backyard or park can become a better home for butterflies.

Butterflies live all over Australia. There are over 400 species and many introduced species, like the very common Cabbage White and Monarch.

Most butterflies emerge in spring and early summer, but some species have several breeding cycles a year so can appear at any time.

If you are keen to identify your visiting butterfly or see one that is unusual, you can find out about them here.

Butterflies love:

Sunshine. It gives them the energy they need for flight. Provide a small, open area, without overhanging trees.

Garden flowers which give them the sweet taste of nectar.

Puddles of water where they can safely take a drink.

But they don't like:

Strong winds, which can tear their fragile wings.

Rain, which keeps them from flight.

Garden pesticides which can kill them.

Be a Buddy to Butterflies

Try to:

Put some rocks in your butterfly garden to soak up the rays and give your butterflies a warm place to sun themselves.

Maintain diversity in plant height, colour and flowering periods. Grow a variety of nectar-rich natives in your garden so a reliable food source is available all year.

Plant groups of the same species together so that it is more obvious to butterflies and locate tall plants at the back to offer maximum protection from strong winds.

Place a shallow dish of muddy water in a sunny spot. Most butterflies like to suck the moisture from the soil.

Experiment and learn which flowers your local butterflies prefer. Get to know what their caterpillars look like.

Avoid:

Using poisonous pesticides in your garden.

Mowing or slashing grasses and sedges on which butterfly larvae are dependant.

Don't be surprised if Butterflies:

Hang upside down from leaves or twigs. Butterflies rest in this position on cloudy days or at night, hidden amongst foliage

A few more Butterflies facts

Butterflies can only see red, green, and yellow.

Butterflies cannot fly if their body temperature is less than 28 degrees C.

There are about 400 species of butterfly in Australia.

Butterflies taste with their feet. Their taste sensors are located in the feet, and by standing on their food, they can taste it.

Butterflies don't have mouths that allow them to bite or chew. They, along with most moths, have a long straw like structure called a proboscis which they use to drink nectar and juices.

 

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Quote

”The BYB initiative and resources teaches kids about the wonders of Australia’s wildlife & wilderness, so they love & cherish it forever.“

John – Teacher, Beauty Point School, NSW

Photo: OEH