Why not put in some butterfly-friendly plants to attract extra color to your landscape?
Planting a butterfly garden in full sun helps the plants reach their fullest bloom and gives butterflies the warmth they need. The insects' fragile wings and bodies also need shelter from wind and rain.
Once you choose butterfly host plants that go well in the landscape, consider putting in five or more of them. This will make a bolder statement in the landscape and will be a bigger attraction for the butterflies.
Host plants are important because butterflies lay their eggs on them, and emerging caterpillars feed on them.
Dark basking stones and a shallow pan of water will also encourage butterflies to land and stay in the garden for a while.
If you live in Ohio, you may have a few buckeye butterflies in your yard. Their brown and orange wings span about 2 1/4 inches and have large eye spots. You might see them sipping at the edge of a puddle or basking in the sun on open ground. Plants like verbena and snapdragon will attract them.
Your backyard willow, birch, black cherry, or tulip tree may attract eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies. Their big yellow wings with black vertical bands and long tails span about 5 1/2 inches.
Silver-spotted skippers will visit wisteria vines, licorice plants, or locust trees. These butterflies look like moths with fat, hairy bodies and dark brown wings with a band of dark gold square spots. They have a two-inch wingspan.
It's not hard to attract monarch butterflies. Their familiar orange wings with black margins and vein markings are a sign of summer. Monarchs prefer members of the milkweed family as host plants.
Painted lady butterflies have brown and orange wings with white tips. They will feed on more than 100 plants, including mallow, hollyhock, borage, mint, and sunflower.
Many other plants have nectar that butterflies and hummingbirds crave. Japanese anemone, rockcress, aster, marigolds, cornflower, shasta daisies, coneflower, and daylilies are good choices. Heliotrope, candytuft, lantana, blazing star, lupine, phlox, and goldenrod are a few others that will attract butterflies. Fennel, lavender, chive, mint, bee balm, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme are nectar-rich herbs to plant in your vegetable patch.
Shrubs such as butterfly bush, lilac, sweet pepperbush, mock orange, sumac, rhododendron, azalea, spirea, and viburnum will also produce a lot of nectar for butterflies and other insects and hummingbirds. And if you are looking for a place to see many of these lovelies floating in the air, visit the Butterfly House. The enclosed butterfly habitat at 11455 Obee Rd. in Whitehouse is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for people ages 13-64, $5 for those 65 and older, and $4.50 for children 4-12. Information: 419-877-2733.