The Importance of Butterfly Gardens

Butterflies are beautiful. Everyone enjoys watching a graceful butterfly drift through the air...

Butterflies are also beneficial in the pollination of flowers. The seeds and fruits from their pollinations will create food for other wildlife--and for us.

Butterflies are an at-risk population. They are at the bottom of the food chain!

It is estimated that one out of every 500 butterfly eggs ever makes it to a butterfly.

swallowtail butterfly on dianthusThey are vulnerable to the elements of nature--freezing cold, heavy rains.

They also have many predators, including other insects, such as ladybugs, praying mantids, and even ants. Birds also love to dine on tasty caterpillars!

Perhaps the biggest predator of all is us--mankind. Whether it is the big bulldozer that carves away their habitat in the creation of housing for us, or the small bottle of insecticides in our storage shed, the result is the same. Butterfly destruction.

The creation of butterfly gardens is a way of “giving back” to nature. And they make a place where butterflies can live, reproduce and continue to pollinate and bring us pleasure.

Some Common BUTTERFLY HOST PLANTS for Southern California:

Alcea rosea - HOLLYHOCK
Antirrhinum majus - SNAPDRAGON
Asclepias - MILKWEED
Foeniculum vulgare - FENNEL
Galvezia speciosa - ISLAND BUSH SNAPDRAGON
Malva sylvestris - MALLOW
Passiflora - PASSION VINE
Plumbago auriculata - CAPE PLUMBAGO
Salix - WILLOW

How do I attract birds to my yard?

With proper plant selection, you can enhance your landscape to attract, feed, and shelter birds for year-round enjoyment.

Shrubs, trees, dense vines provide shelter from inclement weather and predators.
Plants provide fruits, berries and nectar for food.
Select a variety of plants which offer a consistent supply of food over an extended period of time.

Flowers of many plant species attract insects, which are in turn eaten by some types of birds.

Add birdseed feeders. Plant food sources can be complemented by one or more bird feeders filled with high quality seed (with regularity).

***TIP: Providing moving water is the best way to attract birds!

About Birdhouses:
Buy a birdhouse that YOU like. The birds may or may not use it!
Birds like an open vantage spot. Dead trees sometimes serve this purpose well.

Berry-loving songbirds go for: Pyracantha, Cotoneaster, Toyon, Strawberry Tree, Ribes, and more...

For Hummingbird feeders:
4/1 ratio water to sugar
Fresh food every few days
Clean each time you fill feeder
Do not use soap or bleach
Do not use honey
Protect from ants
Do not add red dye
Hummingbirds are in Southern California year round
Dense shrubs provide shelter for birds and their families.

Plant in layers--trees, shrubs and grasses for all varieties of birds.
Please use non-toxic alternatives to pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
An estimated 7 million birds die each year in the US from exposure to lawn pesticides.

A large variety of birds drink and bathe in shallow water.
Place birdbath in the open so cats can’t sneak up on them. Change water every few days.

Western Tanagers love fruit!!! During breeding season their head turns red.

Attract beautiful Bullock’s Orioles with fruit. They love mulberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries and figs......and GRAPE JELLY!

SOCKS ROCK--Use specially-made socks to attract goldfinch and pine siskins
Seed is sometimes called “thistle” but don’t worry--it’s not the weed, and it won’t sprout!
Also known as “nyger,” this oil-rich seed is irresistible to the little guys.


About Wild Bird Seed: You get what you pay for!bird seed bag







Some of the GOOD stuff:
Hulled sunflowers
Black oiled sunflowers
Shelled peanut pieces
Shelled pumpkin seeeds


Good Stuff:

good birdseed









The JUNK Seed:
junk birdseed

Avoid milo and other fillers.
Birds will kick out all the junk to get to the sunflowers -- and you will have a crop of weeds in no time!




To bring in the largest variety of birds, put out an assortment of feeder styles...and feed a variety of food, such as:
Shelled peanuts
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
White Millet
Peanut Hearts
Nyger Thistle
and don’t forget the WATER!

Shelled peanuts will bring you:
Western Scrub Jays

Enjoy your garden and the winged wildlife in it!

For some recommended plants for Gardening for Wildlife in Southern California, please click here.