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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Landscaping > Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly Gardening

By Vera Krischik

The cover of the small grains field guide


Residential and commercial development is destroying natural wildlife habitat. Where ever possible, we need to encourage habitat restoration in order to encourage butterfly and songbird populations. Butterfly gardening can be one positive step in that direction.

Butterfly gardening can be easy. It can be as simple as providing the appropriate variety of host plants for larval growth and adult feeding. Plants used in butterfly gardening include native plants as well as horticultural cultivars of annuals and perennials. Different species of butterflies sip nectar from flowers on specific types of plants. They also search for specific species of plants upon which to lay their eggs. Caterpillars feed on these host plants for their entire life cycle.

By choosing certain plants for adult and larval feeding, we encourage the establishment of butterfly populations which return year after year. As we manage our urban landscapes, our efforts in environmental stewardship assure the presence of butterflies and the sharing of our personal backyard Edens with these beautiful, colorful, soaring insects.

About the author

Vera Krichik, Ph.D., is an assistant professor, Department of Entomology and an extension specialist, Minnesota Extension. She is also the director of the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability, University of Minnesota.


The author gratefully acknowledges a grant from University of Minnesota Extension, which has funded the production of this publication. Also acknowledged is the assistance of and contributions by numerous individuals in the creation of this publication. These include Whitney Cranshaw and Paul Opler, Colorado State University, for the use of slides from the Colorado State Extension slide set on butterfly gardening. Thanks are extended to Kevin Stroom, Robert Wawrzynski, and William Miller, Ph.D., all of the University of Minnesota, for assistance on the manuscript. Thanks also go out to all those who shared their slides of butterflies and plants.


Production of this publication was funded by a Minnesota Extension grant to the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability. Product manager and editor for the Minnesota Extension was Larry Etkin, senior editor, Educational Development System. Produced in the Educational Development System, Minnesota Extension.

Photo credits

Cover garden, Whitney Cranshaw/Paul Opler; insets top to bottom, John Kyhl, Karen Oberhauser, Jeff Hahn, Whitney Cranshaw/Paul Opler. Additional photographs: Karen Oberhauser, Whitney Cranshaw, Paul Opler.

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