Outside the sky was grey and, for the fourth day in a row, it was raining. My daughter Julie and I walked into the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory and I felt like we had entered a tropical paradise. The air was warm and humid but our eyes didn’t know which way to look first. We are amazed by tropical plants with thousands of butterflies of every colour, size and all with delicate wings flitting about. This was my Mother’s Day present from Julie and what a wonderful treat.
The butterflies are an amazing diversity of colour and sizes. They feasted on the flowers and nectar/fruit at the butterfly feeding stations. Butterflies are flying insects with large scaly wings. Like all insects, they have six-jointed legs, three body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail).
The metamorphosis from caterpillar to pupa to butterfly remains one of the most awesome feats that nature offers. Did you know that there are around 160,000 different species of butterflies around the world? Canada’s best known butterfly is the monarch. Each spring they begin the journey north arriving here in the middle of May. Each fall the migrations of the monarch butterflies are a spectacular site. They travel from Canada to Mexico for the winter.
How to build a kid’s butterfly garden
Use a window box or a container in the garden. Choose your plants. A few suggestions are marigolds, coneflowers, impatiens, phlox, sunflower, verbena, zinnia, cosmos sunflower, butterfly weed, and/or daisies You may want to plant parsley to attract caterpillars which will help to create a very active butterfly garden.
Dig a small space in your garden. Make sure you break up the dirt, and add peat moss, to create a loose, fluffy soil for the young plants’ tender roots.
Plant shorter flowers in the front and taller plants in the back. This allows proper sunlight to get to all your plants and keeps both low-feeding and high-feeding butterflies happy.
Water the plants and wait for them to grow and see the butterflies visit your garden.
Tip: Planting groups of flowers rather than single plants will attract more butterflies. Keep your butterfly garden pesticide-free!
Placing a few rocks or sticks in this among the flowers to allows the butterflies to perch and drink. Rocks also provide a site where butterflies can bask to store body heat from the sun.
Where can you see butterflies? Go to your local parks like Rosetta McClain Gardens which has hundreds of plants that butterflies love. Go for a walk at the beach and Ashbridges Bay to see them as well.
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