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Getting Butterflies to Come Flutter by

October 27, 1990|SHARON COHOON

Here are some tips for attracting butterflies to your garden:

Plant a combination of nectar and larval food plants to have butterflies around for their full life cycle. Include both early- and late-blooming flowers. Several plants in each variety are better than single specimens.

Locate plants in full sunlight if possible; next best is dappled shade.

Provide butterflies protection from the wind with the help of a wall, fence or tall shrubs.

Create a watering hole for your winged visitors. One method is burying a bucket filled almost to the brim with sand. Add water to the top and a few flat stones for the butterflies to perch on.

Sacrifice fall reblooming of food plants in order not to deprive caterpillars of a food source.

Let part of your garden go wild, if you've the room and temperament. Some of the weeds found in vacant lots--and our own yards when we don't eradicate them--are butterflies' favorite foods.

Don't use pesticides. Pesticides kill butterflies as well as garden pests.

For more information on butterflies and butterfly gardening, turn to these sources:

"The Butterfly Garden: Turning Your Garden, Window Box or Backyard into a Beautiful Home for Butterflies" by Mathew Tekulsky, the Harvard Common Press. An easy-to-read, well-organized reference book on the subject.

"Theme Gardens" by Barbara Damrosch, Workman Publishing. Written from a gardener's, not a lepidopterist's point of view, her section on a butterfly garden demonstrates how to encourage butterflies and have a beautiful garden, too.

"The Butterflies of Orange County, California" by Larry Orsak, the Regents of the University of California. Former UCI graduate Orsak is considered the expert on butterflies in Orange County by other lepidopterists. His book is technical but interesting to browse through. It lists all the butterflies found in the county, their distribution and favored food plants. The book is no longer in print but may be available through your local library or inter-library loan.

"Nature Notes: Planting for Butterflies," a two-page flyer on butterfly and moth species in Orange County and their food plants. It was compiled by Dr. Peter Bryant of UCI from Orsak's book. Available free from the Natural History Foundation of Orange County, P.O. Box 7038, Newport Beach, Calif. 92658. (714) 586-3550.

"The Butterflies of Southern California" by Thomas C. Emmel and John F. Emmel, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Considered the bible for regional butterfly identification, according to Julian Donahue, curator of lepidopterology at the museum. Available through the Museum Book Store.

"The Audubon Society Handbook for Butterfly Watchers" by Robert Michael Pyle, Charles Scribner's Sons. A guide to observing, identifying and understanding butterflies. Contains a chapter on butterfly gardening.

Lorquin Entomological Society. A 75-year-old organization for butterfly enthusiasts that meets monthly at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. It's "a friendly, sharing group," says Larry Shaw of the Orange County vector control district. "Boy Scouts with butterfly projects come to the meetings. If you let people know you're interested in butterfly gardening, you'll probably be swamped with plant specimens." Write 927 Hartzell St., Pacific Palisades, Calif. 90272 for more information.

The Xerces Society, a conservation organization dedicated to butterflies. For membership information, write 10 Southwest Ask St., Portland, Ore. 97204. ("Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden," by the Xerces Society in association with the Smithsonian Institution will be available from Sierra Club Books later this fall.)

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