Welcome to our last butterfly blog of the year. This month I want to summarize all the things we have talked about in the last 11 blogs to encourage you to get involved in protecting these delicate creatures.
- Butterflies are as essential to our survival as we are to theirs. Many plants cannot produce without the help of pollinators, therefore our food sources and even our air quality are dependent on them. If we continue to use insecticides recklessly and eliminate their hostplants from our environment, butterflies will eventually also be gone.
- Butterflies are an important food source for other animals; our bird populations are in severe decline. Even seed eating birds need insects to provide their young with protein. Birds spread seeds which we in turn need to maintain our fauna.
- Butterflies add beauty to our lives, their metamorphosis adds wonder and a great bit of education for our kids.
- To do your bit, you can start a butterfly garden in your yard. It does not take that much effort. Provide shelter, food, water, and protection as you would for any animal you care for.
- Shelter means planting butterfly friendly plants in a sunny area with larger plants or trees nearby to provide protection from wind and a place to rest.
- Food means planting host plants for the butterflies to lay their eggs and larvae to feed on as well as nectar plants for the adults. Plant native species whenever possible. You can find specific host and nectar plants for each species in our previous blogs.
- Water means you create very shallow puddles with rocks or pine bark for the butterflies to land on and you maintain those water levels in dry periods.
- Protection means keeping your cats inside and limiting red fire ants in your butterfly garden. Use a red fire ant specific product and use it only when and where you see them.
- If you want to take it a step further, and please do, get involved with organizations that aim to protect habitats and conserve the environment.
Thank you for reading our butterfly blog this past year and for getting involved to protect these wonderful insects that are so essential to our survival and our quality of life.
Happy holidays and a healthy new year to you all. Come back next month so discover our monthly blog subject for 2023!
Written by Carin Ashman, UF/IFAS Extension Clay County Master Gardener Volunteer