Butterfly World’s BRING BACK THE BUTTERFLIES campaign is a call for people across the Continental United States and Canada to build a small garden in an effort to reverse the ongoing destruction of butterfly habitat in their local area.
The following guidebook provides you with the types of butterflies you will find in each region as well as the plants you will need to plant in order to help bring butterflies back to your area — starting right in your backyard.
REGIONAL GARDEN GUIDEBOOK
Region 1: Oregon, Washington, southern British Columbia
Region 2: Arizona, California, Nevada
Region 3: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southwest Manitoba
Region 4: New Mexico, Texas
Region 5: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, southeast Manitoba
Region 6: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia
Region 7: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, DC, West Virginia, southern Ontario, southern Quebec
Dwindling butterfly populations are due to habitat destruction in both urban and rural areas. This is caused by construction, pesticides in farming, forest spraying for Gypsy moths, and mosquito spraying programs that are using new, powerful chemicals. Many of these chemicals are now distributed by airplane, blanketing entire areas.
“How can we bring the butterflies back?”
At Butterfly World, our research shows that planting the host plants for butterfly caterpillars is the most effective solution, a great deal more effective than planting nectar sources for adult butterflies.
These host plants are the plants the caterpillars eat, and in most cases these plants are specific to each butterfly species. Fortunately, both male and female butterflies seem to be able to find these plants from long distances. Female butterflies search for them because it is there that they must lay their eggs, and male butterflies seem to find them because of the presence of females.
Butterfly World’s Regional Gardening Guidebook lists butterflies that are found in each region of the United States, as well as the specific host plants that should be readily available to gardeners. Certain very common butterflies have been left off the list because the host plants are nettles or thistles – ouch! — or plants that are difficult to find.
We have also listed the flowering plants, or nectar sources, that seem to be the most effective across the country. Many others will work just as well. These flowers will also attract butterflies that are not on the list, which of course, will be an added bonus.
Many gardeners choose to plant only these showy, flowering nectar sources. However, this does not constitute butterfly gardening. Although nectar sources alone may attract butterflies, only the planting of caterpillar host plants defines true butterfly gardening. Butterfly gardening is the only way to accomplish the goals of this campaign. It is the only way to restore large numbers of butterflies in the areas where we live, and build permanent populations of them.
Thankfully, butterfly gardening is not difficult to do, and it will work for homes, farms, schools and cities. Try it yourself and see!