Sunday, July 13th, 2008...3:32 pm

Where Have All The Butterflies Gone?

Photo taken by Martin LaBar

Is it just TheGardenLady, or have others noticed that there are very few butterflies in the garden this summer?

Yes, TheGardenLady saw one yellow swallowtail, one viceroy, one black swallowtail and a half dozen cabbage white butterflies on her flowers and she saw a fritillary in her friend’s garden. She also had a magical moment at a plant nursery where a yellow swallowtail clung to her arm as she carried away a plant she wanted to purchase.

TheGardenLady makes a special effort to plant butterfly attracting plants in her garden. A great site about butterflies and their host plants as well as their favorite nectar plants is this. TheGardenLady has many of the host plants on her yard such as wild cherry, false nettle, sunflowers, sycamore trees, dill, plantains and there are some of the hosts down the block such as lots of milkweed.

TheGardenLady also raises numerous nectar plants that butterflies need such as: Agastache, Allium, Buddleia, Calamintha, Caryopteris, Chrysanthemum, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Dictamnus, Echinacea, Eupatorium, Filipendula, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Hemerocallis, Knautia. Lysimachia, Monarda, Myosotis, Nepeta, Origanum, Phlox, Primula, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Scabiosa, Sedum, Stokesia,Tradescantia, Weigela.

I have the requisite water with my stream bisecting my property, and I sometimes put out watermelon and rotted bananas for butterflies. I read that they like rotted manure salts, and this year I used aged horse manure as mulch. TheGardenLady does not use pesticides on the property.

In past years I had loads of black monarch butterflies nectaring in my hosta flowers and puddling near the stream. Read this.

Last year, my neighbors told me how they were glued to their living room window watching as my buddleias were literally covered with butterflies. This year the major blooming of one buddleia is over and the second one is in full bloom yet l have seen only one yellow swallowtail anywhere near these shrubs.

One wildlife magazine that I subscribe to described how many butterflies in the Midwest were disappearing because their host plants were on meadows that are now being mown down either to build on or to make corn fields. I do not know what the Cape May, NJ butterfly count has shown-or if they have had their butterfly count yet. Read this.

I know that the summer is not over and some butterflies have more than one brood; so TheGardenLady is hoping that she will see more butterflies this summer. But it is sad not seeing butterflies enjoying TheGardenLady’s garden as much as the humans are enjoying it.

TheGardenLady would be interested in hearing if her readership is noticing a dwindling of butterflies in their gardens.

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  • Here in the UK butterfly numbers are very disappointing at the moment. Apart from one comma and one gatekeeper together with a few bees my buddleia isn’t attracting much at the moment. Usually August sees a build up of numbers in my area and if the weather settles down I hope to see many more. I’ve only noted one dragonfly hatch from my pond so far, again very disappointing.

  • I’m in central Virginia and have noticed the same thing. I’ve seen various smaller butterflies (but few of them) but don’t see the usual Eastern Tiger Swallowtail that is so common here, along with many others. We have an abundance of milkweed this year and are hoping to see Monarchs by September.

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