- How can I attract butterflies to my yard?
Try some of the flowers mentioned in our "Small-Space Butterfly Gardens" article. (LINK)
- There's an unusual flier in my yard that looks like a cross between a hummingbird and a butterfly. What is it?
Commonly referred to as the hummingbird moth, the hummingbird clearwing is a moth that has similar features of a hummingbird. Reader more about this interesting flier here. LINK
- How do you tell the difference between a moth and butterfly?
The quickest way is to look at when you see a moth or butterfly. Most moths fly at night, and most butterflies fly during the day. Next, look at the antennae. Butterflies have enlarged clubs at the tip of their antennae. Mothers, on the other hand, have either tapered or feathered antennae.
- When do monarchs migrate?
In autumn, these regal butterflies travel up to 2,000 miles over 2 months. Those from east of the Rocky Mountains head to a 30-by-50-mile patch of forest in the mountains of south-central Mexico, and those west of the Rockies winter in southern California. The only exception is the nonmigratory population in southern Florida. There, monarchs continue to breed and produce caterpillars year-round.
- How do you make butterfly nectar?
While hummingbird nectar is typically a 4-to-1 ratio of water to sugar, butterfly nectar is a bit weaker. Try a 10 percent sugar-water solution (about 1 part sugar to 10 parts water), and add a pinch of multivitamins, if you'd like, from a children's vitamin capsule. Or, use Gatorade with a little sugar added-about 1/2 teaspoon per cup.
- What happens to butterflies in severe weather?
While severe weather can hurt butterfly populations, there is good news. Often times, butterflies can sense bad weather before it approaches and they take cover.
- What are mimic butterflies?
Batesian mimicry is an evolutionary process whereby a species changes its color or pattern through genetic mutation to closely resemble a toxic species. Butterflies are just one of the insects that use this behavior. They do it for protection. Common mimic butterflies include the viceroy, which resembles the monarch. The female tiger swallowtail, the red-spotted purple, the Diana fritillary and the spicebush swallowtail all mimic the chemically toxic pipevine swallowtail.
- What's the first butterfly that shows up in spring?
The mourning cloak has earned the title of being the first butterfly of spring. It hibernates over winter as a butterfly, and the sun's heat coaxes it out of its winter resting place in early spring.
- I noticed a group of butterflies grouped together close to the ground. What are they doing?
This activity is called "puddling" and it's a common sight, especially during early spring in wooded areas of the Appalachian Mountains and elsewhere.
- Do butterflies actually use butterfly houses or are they more for decoration?
Butterfly houses are primarily for decoration because the kinds of butterflies that frequent gardens won't use houses for shelter or roosting. However, there are woodland species of butterflies that might use the houses, such as mourning cloaks and common wood nymphs, which overwinter in the protective cover of wood piles and tree cavities.