Ask an Expert: Butterflies

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This topic contains 65 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by SandraRW SandraRW 2 weeks, 2 days ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 66 total)
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  • #5131611 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    In addition to working here at Birds & Blooms, I’m also a bona fide “butterfly lady” at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, FL (I also go by “Lepidopterist”). I help to maintain outdoor butterfly gardens and a free-flight exhibit so guests can experience butterflies up close. We raise almost all of our own butterflies from eggs or caterpillars, so I have a LOT of hands-on experience with these beautiful bugs. I’d like to offer my expertise to anyone who has a question or needs help with their own butterfly garden. Just post your question here, and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

     


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5131654 Report Abuse
    Stelios
    Stelios
    Participant

    Thank you Jill for the offer.  I am sure you know your butterfly stuff.  I only have one question…..or should I say request…..please send some Monarchs my way.   I’ve been building a special maternity ward with restaurant facilities for these beauties.  Did not have one Monarch stop over last year.  So if you can just use your magic wand, send them here…..!!!


    Stella
    Community Team Member

    #5132277 Report Abuse
    heatherincolor
    heatherincolor
    Participant

    ooohhh, i have a question! i just saw a butterfly house for the first time last week- i had no idea there was such a thing. should i get one and if so, where should i put it?


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    #5132328 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Great question, Heather! Although butterfly houses are very cute, I can honestly say I have never seen (or heard of) a butterfly using them. Butterflies seek shelter in shrubs, tall grasses, the undersides of leaves, and even cracks in rocks or tree bark. Those last two are probably what inspired the idea of butterfly houses. In theory, a butterfly could use them, but they’re really unlikely to, and in my experience, they usually just become a haven for wasps. :)

    Putting one up won’t harm butterflies, but probably won’t help them either. I recommend spending the money on some tall native grasses or a new nectar-producing shrub that can provide food and shelter all in one instead. Hope this helps!


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5132330 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Great question, heather! Although butterfly houses are very cute, I can honestly say I have never seen (or heard of) a butterfly using them. Butterflies seek shelter in shrubs, tall grasses, the undersides of leaves, and even cracks in rocks or tree bark. Those last two are probably what inspired the idea of butterfly houses. In theory, a butterfly could use them, but they’re really unlikely to, and in my experience, they usually just become a haven for wasps. :)

    Putting one up won’t harm butterflies, but probably won’t help them either. I recommend spending the money on some tall native grasses or a new nectar-producing shrub that can provide food and shelter all in one instead. Hope this helps!


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5132332 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Oh, and Stella – I really really hope you see some monarchs this year too. 2013 was a very bad year for the central population (the one that migrates to Mexico in winter and then back to most of the U.S. and lower Canada each year), so we’re all hoping to see some hopeful signs in 2014. You can see some great tracking maps and other information here: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/spring2014/update041014.html


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5132738 Report Abuse
    margba
    margba
    Participant

    Jill, That is very generous of you to offer like this!  I see so few bf’s any more!  Ever hearvof the Butterfly sanctuary in Ft Indiantown Gap, PA.  Yep, that is really a name of a town by the Water Gap in PA,  I have to go there sometime! What are some good flowers to plant tovattract bf’s other than bf bushes!  I also noticed bf’s will come to hb feeders!


    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by margba margba.
    #5132746 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Marg – I haven’t been to that particular butterfly sanctuary, but I think it’s really neat that they’re becoming so popular around the country. Every day people who visit our exhibit take home information for starting their own butterfly gardens, and that’s exactly what our butterflies need! The more home gardeners who become interested in protecting and helping these beauties, the more butterflies there will be for everyone to enjoy!

    It’s always hard to recommend butterfly plants for different areas around the country, but a few good bets for everyone include zinnias, cosmos, and marigolds, as well as native wildflowers. Birds & Blooms has a LOT of good info right here on the website about the best flowers for butterflies. Remember to add both nectar plants (for adult butterflies) and host plants (for butterflies to lay their eggs on and caterpillars to eat) for the most variety of butterflies in your garden. Take a look at the resources here, and let me know if you have any questions about some of the plants mentioned.

    http://www.birdsandblooms.com/gardening/attracting-butterflies/

    I definitely encourage everyone to add milkweed to their garden, if at all possible. Monarchs really need our help. Ask your local nursery for the best milkweed species to grow in your area.


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5132753 Report Abuse
    steve232__nc
    steve232__nc
    Participant

    Jill we have wild milkweed growing around here but just a few days ago I planted some milkweed seeds. Assuming they germinate I plan on putting some of those plants near my butterfly bushes.


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    #5133440 Report Abuse
    margba
    margba
    Participant

    There used to be some wild milk eeed & wild evening primrose growing in a small field behind the grove if spruce trees til an over zealous neighbir who wanted the “biggest” garddn here chopped that stuff all down, even on the bank of the railroad track here!  Grrrr!  Maybe that stuff will come back, as she changed her gardening plot area!  I hope so!!


    #5135226 Report Abuse
    Kim
    Kim
    Participant

    Jill…it’s good to know there’s a bona fide “butterfly lady” in the house! :)


    #5144961 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Hi Jill

    I am really trying to increase my milkweed supply this year in hopes that the Monarch will benefit. All my seeds came from one”tropical” milkweed that I have had for two years. I started the seeds a few months ago indoors and I now have transplanted over 30 young new plants outside in pots.  Do I need to look for other types of milkweed? Do they prefer certain types?  I really want to add more to my gardens for the Monarchs, if I need to. I have lots of other flowers for the Swallowtails, etc.


    #5145186 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Sandra – It’s best to plant milkweed that’s native to your region. Asclepias tuberosa, known as Butterflyweed, is native to a lot of areas. Try finding a local native plant nursery (do a web search) and asking their advice. This PDF from Milkweed Joint Venture will be helpful too: http://monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/documents/MilkweedFactSheetFINAL.pdf

    Hope this helps you… and the monarchs thank you for helping them!


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5146581 Report Abuse
    steve232__nc
    steve232__nc
    Participant

    Jill early Wednesday morning when I was taking Daisy for her morning walk we ran across this critter below. Is it a luna moth ? It kinda looks like one but I thought they were white ?



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    #5146656 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    I am not sure I am spelling it right but I think it is a Polyphemus.  it is not a Luna  they are greener with long tails


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