Attract Butterflies to Your Garden!
When planting for butterflies and to attract butterflies to your garden it is important to plan for all four stages of a butterfly’s life: adult, egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis.
When you spend the time to attract butterflies to your garden, it can be a rewarding experience. Adult butterflies feed on nectar, which is obtained from flowering plants. In due course the adults lay their eggs, which need an unobtrusive leafy or grassy spot. When caterpillars hatch from the eggs, they will need all kinds of plant protein (although some are carnivorous) to prepare for the day when they form a chrysalis, and the whole process begins again.
One group of nectar-producing plants native to Australia is Micromelum minutum, small trees or shrubs of the citrus family Rutaceae. These plants are more commonly known as Lime Berry, Micromelum, Tulibas Tilos, Talafalu and Chememar. Other native Australians are Bursaria spinosa (Sweet Bursaria, Christmas Bush, Blackthorn, Prickly Box), Leptospermum (Teatree), Melaleuca (also referred to as Teatree, but more commonly known as Paperbark, or Honey-Myrtle), Eucalyptus (many varieties), Allocasuarina (She-Oak), Banksia (many varieties), Bossiaea (several varieties), Callistemon (Bottlebrush), Correa (several varieties, including Dusky Bells), Goodenia ovata (Hop Goodenia), Hakea (many varieties, including Pincushion Tree), Pimelea (many varieties, including Alpine Riceflower), Myoporum (Boobialla), Solanum (Kangaroo Apples), Parsonsia (New Zealand jasmine), Viola hederacea (Native Violet), Clematis (many varieties), and Pandorea pandorana (Wonga Vine). Almost all native wildflowers will produce nectar that butterflies find tasty. Local garden centers are excellent resources in this regard.
Non-native nectar-producing plants that have adapted well are Buddleia davidii (Butterfly-Bush, Summer Lilac, Orange Eye), Pentas (several varieties, one called Egyptian Star Flower), and Lantana camara (Big-Sage, Wild-Sage, Red-Sage, White-Sage and Tickberry). Lantana camara can be invasive, so careful consideration is a good idea.
Plants where butterflies like to lay their eggs, and where the hatched caterpillars prefer to dine, are referred to as butterfly host plants. In this case, it is usually best to stick to native varieties, which have stood the test of time. Proven butterfly host plants are Acacia (Wattles, which is also a good nectar plant), Pultenaea (Bush Peas), Scaevola (Purple Fan Flower), Lomandra (Spiny-head Mat-rush or Basket Grass), Poa (several varieties, including Annual Meadow Grass and Tussock Grass), Gahnia (Sawsedge), Carex (Sedge, many varieties), Hardenbergia violacea (Purple Coral Pea, also a nectar plant), and Kennedia prostrata (Running Postman, also an nectar plant). Many native trees host varieties of Mistletoe that are good places for butterfly eggs; this is another instance in which local garden centers are invaluable resources.
One final note: A garden dripping with pesticides and herbicides will neither attract nor sustain butterflies.
Gold Coast Butterflies
Gold Coast Butterflies has a wonderful collection of Butterflies and talks at their Butterfly Education and Conservation Walk-In House. They are open Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday 10am – 2pm and every day of Qld School Holidays. Entry is only $5.00.
You will be able to also see Gold Coast Butterflies at the Botanical Bazaar, Gold Coast Gardening Expo.