5 ways to attract butterflies to your garden

June 19, 2015, 12:03 p.m.
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Do you love watching butterflies flit from flower to flower? Their colors and fluttering flight are one of the most iconic aspects of a perfect summer day. You can attract these beautiful and beneficial insects to your yard in just a few easy steps.

1. Add butterfly-friendly plants to your yard. This includes a mix of host plants (places for them to lay eggs and for caterpillars to feast upon) and nectar plants for the adult butterflies to feed from. Select a range of plants the will provide food and shelter from spring until fall.

2. If you know you want to attract certain species native to your area, find out their favorite plants and include them in your landscape. For instance, monarch butterflies only use milkweed to eat, lay eggs and transform from caterpillar to butterfly. So if you want monarchs, plant milkweed. Check out field guides on butterflies to learn what species are in your area and which plants they like best.

3. Butterflies like to have water and places to sun, so provide shallow pans of water and flat rocks protected from the wind. This will make your yard extra appealing as a place not only to eat but also to rest.

4. Use edible plants in your yard so both you and the butterflies benefit. Herbs like lavender and oregano, vegetables like squash and green beans, and of course various fruits from strawberries to apple trees are all great additions to your garden, as well as provide food for butterflies. They also present an opportunity for parents to show children what pollinators do and why they are so important.

5. Go organic. Avoid using chemicals and pesticides in your yard, as these could deter or kill any butterflies and other beneficial insects that are attracted to your garden.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.