Program: Butterflies and Butterfly Gardening - Loice Kendrick
Ms. Kendrick is the director of the Haynsville Celebration of Butterflies for over 20 years She is a master gardener. She is in charge of the Haynsville Butterfly Festival September 16, 17 at Clairborn Fairgrounds.
The class of insects order levidoptera, which includes the butterfly family, skippers and moths. There are 20,000 species of butterflies in the world, 717 species in the United States and Canada. There are 132 in Louisiana and 423 in Texas. So for the gardener who wants to decorate his garden with butterflies there are wonderful opportunities.
Making a distinction between butterflies, skippers, and moths is fairly straightforward. Butterflies have straight clubbed antennae. Skippers have dull colors, large heads and fat bodies and are diurnal. Moths feed principally at night. Their antenna are feather like.
There are four stages of butterfly development. During each stage, there are entirely different biological needs of the organism which must be met to develop a garden which will attract and hold butterflies. The first is the egg which is generally laid on the leaves of a plant. This plant becomes the host plant which the larvae the second stage eat. During this stage the larvae grow rapidly. The caterpillar - larval stage - can molt four to five times till they go into chrysalis stage. When the insects emerge from this stage they are fully developed butterflies. During this stage they feed on nectar plants.
The Indian word for butterflies translates into "flying flower." The largest butterfly in the world has an eleven and one half inch wingspan. The swallowtail butterflies are the largest in the USA. and can be found in Louisiana. They have a wing span of five and one half inches.
Butterflies have many enemies such as man destroying their habitat. and natural predators such as preying mantis and birds.
The monarch butterfly is probably the most recognized species of butterfly. The larvae feed on milkweed and in the process accumulate toxins which are very toxic to birds. And as a result other butterflies such as the viceroy, which has a black band in the wings, mimic the monarch to protect themselves. The monarchs that live here in Louisiana go to Mexico during winter. Monarchs can fly at 50 mph and over 7000 feet in altitude for a distance > 2000 miles
Black swallowtail use parsley family plants. Prickly ash is an excellent host tree.
The zebra swallowtail uses the pawpaw plant as a host.
The spicebush swallowtail has a black iridescent, white spots on trailing wing edge.
The harvester butterfly feeds on aphids.
The painted lady is essentially yellow as are the asters which is the host plant
Butterflies need a place where they can spread out to warm up in the morning. Butterflies great vision smell and taste Sassafras trees desirable for butterflies. Partridge pea provides nectar and plant food. The benefit of a butterfly garden is that humming birds are attracted to same gardens especially cypress vine, coral honeysuckle. Consider using a butterfly bush - nectar budlia and lantana. Other good flowers for a garden are purple cone flowers , Indian summer flowers, yellow cone flowers, zinnias ( the old fashioned ones not the hybrids.) The flowers you should use in your butterfly garden are the kind that like to live in the sun. Mexican milkweed grows well down here in the south and is excellent for attracting monarchs. Nectar plants include pinta, bachelor buttons and verbena.
Colorful flowers like hibiscus, hollyhocks, Turks cap, alphia, Texas star, salvia especially the red not only attract butterflies but add depth to your garden. Fall blooming flowers such as French marigold sunflowers, goldenrod, ironweed necessary because butterfly population increases throughout the summer.
Shrubs needed for shelter wind and rain such as glossie albelia.
A butterfly feeder can be attractive to these insects. They will eat over ripe fruit, dead animals feces urine saucer bannanas , peelings of apples, watermelon, especially in a smaller saucer placed in a larger one filled with water to keep the ants away. They will also like gatoraide or other nectar
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