All About Butterflies - And a Bit About Ladybugs, too!

June 07 [Thu], 2012, 18:13
As children we were often told that if you touch a butterfly, you'll rub off the velvety powder from its wings, and it will die. Fact or fantasy? Actually, this is a myth, probably created to protect our colorful butterflies from harm. They are very delicate, but such a delight to watch, as we marvel at the many sizes, colors and patterns they display.For trivia buffs, did you know that butterflies range in size from a tiny 1/8 inch to a huge almost 12 inches? They can see red, green and yellow. Their top flight speed is 12 miles per hour, but some moths can fly 25 miles per hour! Butterflies can't fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees, so they will begin to arrive when spring or summer temperatures are warmer and the days are more sunny.

Monarch butterflies journey from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of about 2,000 miles, and return to the north again in the spring. The Brimstone butterfly (Gonepterix rhamni) has the longest lifetime of the adult butterflies, which is estimated to be 9-10 months. There are about 24,000 species of butterflies! The moths are even more numerous - about 140,000 species of them were counted all over the world. Butterflies have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, called the exoskeleton, to protect them and keep water inside their bodies so they don't dry out. Many butterflies can taste with their feet to determine whether the leaf they are sitting on is the right place to lay their eggs, as it will also become a good food source for their caterpillars when they hatch. Of course, they also seek plants with sweet nectar for their own food. If you wish to invite butterflies to make a seasonal stop in your yard, you must learn the plants that they simply can't resist.

Then, plant your butterfly garden and watch for the fun to begin.Some plant favorites may surprise you. Here are twenty perennial plants that the butterflies love:Asters: late summer to fall - Bee balm (bergamot): summer through fall - Butterfly weed: summer through fall - Clover (white or red): summer to fall - Coreopsis: summer to fall - Dianthus: spring to fall - Lavender: summer - Lupine: late spring to early summer - Mints: all summer - Passionflower: summer to fall - Phlox: summer to fall - Purple coneflower: summer to fall - Sage: summer to fall - Salvia: summer to fall - Scabiosa 'Butterfly blue': summer through fall - Shasta daisy: summer - Thistle: late spring through fall - Violet: spring - Yarrow: summerSince all of these plants are perennials, they will come back every year to be ready when your butterflies arrive.The truth is that butterflies have evolved to survive and thrive in extreme conditions.

They exist everywhere in the world except for Antarctica. Butterflies are definitely stronger than they look, and many species migrate thousands of miles every year - and not just to Mexico - another common myth! Many people find a butterfly house to be an attractive addition to their butterfly garden. For a nice selection that can be used as an indoor decorative accent. You will also find Ladybug houses for the delight of these shiny insects - usually red with black spots or black with red spots on the wing covers. These tiny predators are usually very welcome in the garden, because ladybug larvae and adults eat aphids, mealybugs and mites (which are garden pests). Ladybug larvae can eat about 25 aphids a day; adults can eat over 50! Everyone enjoys their wild birds, but butterflies and ladybugs are both beautiful and beneficial.To find other great information on caring for your wild birds - and maybe find the perfect birdhouse, bird feeder, bird bath or bat house that you've been seeking.
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