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This post covers common conflicts found when planning a butterfly garden. Our next tips will provide information on common butterflies in Eastern Colorado and the foods they prefer. Therefore, if you want a steady flow of butterfly visitors, we will cover which food sources to include in your garden.
Many of the most attractive nectar plants are commonly considered as “weeds” in other settings. Good examples are various thistles and dandelion, all highly attractive to several common butterflies. The well-manicured and tended garden discourages some butterfly species that develop on wild types of plants. (Note: Canada thistle is considered a noxious weed. Areas that have formed weed districts prohibit by law the culture of Canada thistle.)
A few butterflies also develop on certain garden crops and may be pests if the vegetable is considered more desirable than the insects. The European cabbage butterfly (on broccoli, cabbage and other mustards) and the black swallowtail (on parsley and dill) are common garden inhabitants in Colorado.
Use insecticides sparingly because most are not compatible with attracting and increasing the number of butterflies in a yard. Most garden insecticides can kill the caterpillar stages of the insects. Adult butterflies also can be killed by resting on insecticide-treated surfaces.
A Field Guide to Western Butterflies, 2nd Edition. 1999. P.A. Opler and A. Wright (illustrator). Peterson Field Guide Series, Houghton-Mifflin.
Butterflies of North America. P.A. Opler, R.E. Stanford, H. Pavulaan, coordinators, USDI-USGS, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center.
Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden. 1990. Xerces Society, in association with the Smithsonian Institution. Sierra Club Books. San Francisco.
Emmel, T.C., M.C. Minno and B.A. Drummond. 1992. Florissant Butterflies: A Guide to the Fossil and Present Day Species of Central Colorado. Stanford University Press. Stanford, Calif.
Ferris, C.D., and F.M. Brown. 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman, Okla.
Opler, P., and S.W. Strawn. 1988. Butterflies of the American West: A Coloring Album. Roberts Rinehart. Niwot, Colo.
Opler, P., and A.B. Wright. 1994. Peterson First Guides. Butterflies and Moths. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, New York.
Pyle, R.M. 1981. Audubon Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf. New York.