Birds and Blooms Blog

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Attracting Butterflies with Fruit

Jill Staake

Everyone knows that butterflies love flowers. Plant the right ones, and they’ll flock to your garden. This is certainly true, but not all butterflies use flower nectar as their primary diet. Some species are more likely to drop by to visit you if you offer some fruit instead, including Mourning Cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa). Others, like Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) and Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) enjoy both. Here’s the low-down on attracting butterflies with fruit.

Attracting butterflies with fruit.

Jill Staake A monarch butterfly enjoying an overripe banana.

Choose juicy fruits. Butterflies will use their proboscis to sip fruit juice just as they would flower nectar, as you can see in the photo of the monarch above. Fruits like strawberries, mangoes, oranges, and watermelon are ideal.

The riper, the better. We don’t think of bananas as “juicy”, but as they ripen, they become softer and easier for butterflies to ingest. Rather than throwing out those rotting bananas on your counter, slice them open and offer them to the butterflies in your garden.

Change fruit daily. Fruit left out overnight is likely to attract undesirable critters like raccoons, and soon becomes a smelly mess. Put fruit out in the mornings or afternoons when you’ll be around to watch – what’s the point of attracting butterflies with fruit if you’re not there to see the fun?

Use water to repel ants. Butterflies aren’t the only insects that will show interest in your fruit. Keep ants away by laying fruit in a shallow dish surrounded by water, which ants won’t cross. There’s no good way to keep off the wasps and bees, though, so keep kids and pets at a safe distance if you’re concerned about them.

Attracting Butterflies with Fruit

Jill Staake Mourning Cloaks appear in early spring, before fruit is available. They sip sap from trees then instead, but might visit your garden if you offer fruit.

Have you tried offering fruit to butterflies? What tips would you offer to others? Tell us in the comments below.

Help Us Reach—And Celebrate—500,000 likes on Facebook!

Mary Dolan

We’re so thrilled to have nearly reached 500,000 likes on Facebook. What a milestone! And it’s all because of our fantastic fans. To say thank you, we’re giving away a birding prize package from Wind & Weather. Learn more about them here, and be sure to enter our giveaway here. This prize package is perfect for those who love feeding birds!

Drought Tolerant Garden: Beauty in the City – Part 1

Mesquite tree and Aloe Vera

Mesquite tree, aloe vera and pink bougainvillea in spring.

What do you think of when someone mentions a ‘drought tolerant garden’? Do visions of a landscape filled with a few spiny cactus come to mind? Well, I am here to help dispel that perception.

As a native of California who now lives and gardens in the desert Southwest, drought tolerant gardening has always been second nature to me.  I know from personal experience, that drought tolerant gardens can be places filled with beauty.

Last spring, I discovered a jewel in the desert – in the middle of Arizona to be precise.  The Scottsdale Xeriscape Demonstration Garden is a place filled with beautifully designed landscapes composed of drought tolerant plants and real life examples of water harvesting.

Gabion walls (wire cages filled with stone).

Gabion walls (wire cages filled with stone).

As its name suggests, this is a demonstration garden, whose goal is to ‘demonstrate’ to the public certain landscape concepts.  In the case of this desert garden, saving water is promoted throughout the garden with examples of drought tolerant plants, innovative water harvesting methods and educational signage.

Gabion walls are used to create terraces along the sides of the garden, which help to slow down the movement of runoff that result from rainfall.  The terraces help to capture the water to allow it to penetrate the soil to water plants.  Boulders are also used to help slow the advance of water.

Gabion walls and drought tolerant plants.

Gabion walls and drought tolerant plants.

As you walk through the 5-acre garden, you are in for a visual treat.  Pathways are lined with palo verde trees with their characteristic green trunks and flowering drought tolerant perennials such as white and pink globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), ‘Gold Mound’ lantana and the vibrant orange of flame honeysuckle (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).  Gabion walls in this area help to enable the plants to soak up rainwater, decreasing the need for supplemental watering.

Scottsdale Xeriscape Demonstration Garden-016

Toward the end of the garden, you encounter an artistic, terraced garden, which is truly stunning.  This creative design is made from curved walls of stacked stone and river rock.  Individual planting beds hold willow acacia (Acacia willardiana) trees, flowering desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata) and a variety of ornamental grasses, which are all drought tolerant.  *Note that there are no cactus present, further illustrating that a drought tolerant garden does not have to be filled with cacti.

Scottsdale Xeriscape Demonstration Garden-012

Another view of the unique terracing.  This terraced garden is a work of environmental art called ‘Terraced Cascade’.  It is both ornamental and functional.  Rainwater is channeled toward the middle of the planting beds where it falls down a series of steps and then underneath two bridges until it comes to rest in a shallow basin that allow the water to slowly permeate, helping to replenish groundwater.  Even when it is dry, this terraced garden creates the illusion of cascading water.

These are just a few of the wonders that this beautiful drought tolerant garden holds.  Come back on Friday, to see Part 2, when I will show you some other examples of water harvesting, beautiful plants and a VERY effective example of the need to conserve water.



Bird Species Profile: Black-necked Stilt

Rob Ripma

I’ve loved Black-necked Stilts since just after I started birding. The stilts were just returning to breed at one of my favorite Indiana birding locations, Goose Pond FWA, and I spent a lot of time watching them. As I’ve traveled around the US and beyond over the last few years, I’ve observed this species in many of the places I visit. From St. John in the US Virgin Islands to the endemic subspecies on the Hawaiian Islands, there are many locations to see this cool bird!

The endemic subspecies of Black-necked Stilt is called A'eo in Hawaiian. They can be found on all of the main islands.

The endemic subspecies of Black-necked Stilt is called A’eo in Hawaiian. They can be found on all of the main islands.



You can see Black-necked Stilts on South Padre Island in Texas all year long!

You can see Black-necked Stilts on South Padre Island in Texas all year long!

St John was one of my favorite place to watch Black-necked Stilts. This individual was running around right next to a flamingo!

St John was one of my favorite place to watch Black-necked Stilts. This individual was running around right next to a flamingo!

Let us know where you have seen Black-necked Stilts by commenting below!

Old-Fashioned DIY Rose Jar

Jill Staake

In the days before store-bought potpourri, our grandmothers knew the value of gathering their rosebuds while they may. Any gardener worth her salt would clip the best sweet-smelling roses all summer long, carefully dry the petals, and tuck them away in jars to scent her home in the months and years ahead. I hope this easy DIY rose jar project will encourage you to do the same with your own rose garden this year.

DIY Rose Jar

DIY Rose Jar Supplies

  • Jars with Lids – I used medium-sized corked jars I found in the dollar bins at Target
  • Recollections Lace Stickers (available at Michaels craft stores; if you’re unable to find these, you can also create this look using Mod Podge decoupage glue and actual lace)
  • Dried Rose Petals (see below)

DIY Rose Jar

Drying Rose Petals

My online research turned up a great deal of information about the best way to dry rose petals, including instructions for drying them in the microwave and using a dehydrator. I decided to dry my rose petals the old-fashioned way, but if you’re interested in other options, click here to learn more.

  • Gather roses at their peak, before they start to turn brown. Roses that are already dying will continue to break down in the jars, leading to an unpleasant smell instead of the sweet scent you’re looking for.
  • Pull petals from the roses when fresh, and discard stems.
  • Lay petals in a single layer on paper towels, newspaper, or clean dry cloth.
  • Place in a warm dry space for several days, until petals are crisp to the touch. Depending on the air flow, you may need to turn or stir them while drying.

DIY Rose Jars

Use the lace stickers (or Mod Podge and real lace) to decorate your jars as desired, and add your rose petals. My jars are only partly full, as I intend to keep adding to them as my roses blooms in the months ahead. Place them on a mantle or shelf, and open the jars when you want to get a whiff of summer!

DIY Rose Jar

Low Tide Beach Birding Tips

Headed to the beach to check out the shore birds? Get birding tips to make the most of your time and protect our winged friends too.

Surprising Flowering Plants

From a cactus that produces a lily-like flower to what dogwood flowers really look like along with some other surprising flowering plants.

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