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Gardening for butterflies & bees It   has   been   said   that   flowers   are   food   for   the   soul,   but   for   many   creatures   including butterflies    and    bees,    flowers    are    critical    to    their    survival    so    in    turn,    critical    for    our survival!    The Problem: The   trend   towards   low   maintenance   gardening   has   resulted   in   more   shrubs   but   less annuals   and   perennials.   This   is   a   disaster   for   nectar   feeders,   as   annuals   and   perennials have   a   much   longer   flowering   period,   providing   nectar   and   pollen   over   an   extended season.   This   is   but   one   contributing   factor   in   the   worldwide   decline   in   the   population   of butterflies and bees.    The Solution: Creating   gardens   with   plenty   of   flowers   is   a   simple   first   step   in   encouraging   them   back. At   Earthlore   we   sell   our   own   blends   of   wildflower   seeds,   one   for   butterflies   and   one   for pollinators,   though   there   are   varieties   in   both   mixes   which   will   appeal   equally   to   bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.    The   next   step   is   to   consider   the   needs   for   their   entire   life-cycle.   While   bees   are   happy with   a   variety   of   nectar   rich   flowers,   for   butterflies   it   is   critical   to   have   the   host   plant   for their caterpillar stage nearby.   This   means   knowing   what   the   host   plant   is   for   the   butterflies   you   are   trying   to   attract. The   caterpillar   host   plant   differs   for   every   individual   species,   with   probably   the   most   well known    being    the    swan    plant    for    the    Monarch    butterfly,    but    there    are    many    other beautiful native butterflies you can encourage into your garden.   The    host    plants    for    our    native    Admiral    butterflies    are    nettles,    the    Yellow    Admiral preferring    the    common    nettle while    the    Red    Admiral    prefers the   native   NZ   tree   nettle,   Urtica ferox.   The   tree   nettle   is   not   really   a   people-friendly   plant,   with   many   stands   around   the country    having    been    removed,    particularly    where    they    pose    a    threat    to    livestock, contributing   to   the   decline   of   this   beautiful   butterfly.   While   it   may   not   be   recommended to   include   the   tree   nettle   in   your   home   garden,   leaving   a   patch   of   common   nettles   would be a good alternative.   Several   species   of   native   Muehlenbeckia   are   the   host   plants   to   the   caterpillars   of   NZ’s beautiful   little   Copper   butterflies.   One   is   a   rampant   climber   that   can   often   be   seen   on roadsides   romping   over   other   trees   and   shrubs,   and   whilst   providing   a   wonderful   habitat for   the   caterpillars,   is   totally   unsuited   to   the   home   garden.   Luckily   there   are   smaller, tamer   alternatives   in   the   family   such   as   Muehlenbeckia   astonii,   a   quirky,   tangled   shrub, height to 2 metres, or M. axillaris a low growing ground-cover.   At   Earthlore   we   have   planted,   and   are   still   planting,   large   areas   with   all   these   varieties, and have been excited to see a significant rise in the local butterfly population. As    well    as    food,    butterflies    also    require    shelter    from    wind,    a    rock    or    wall    to    warm themselves,   and   an   area   of   shallow   muddy   water   to   “puddle”.   Puddling   is   done   by   the males    only,    and    involves    absorbing    minerals    from    clay    to    help    with    reproduction.    A shallow   saucer   with   clay   and   gravel   in   the   bottom,   kept   filled   with   water   will   do   the   trick, while at the same time provide drinking water for bees.   With   these   basics   provided   for,   attention   could   then   be   turned   towards   the   eradication   of wasps   from   the   area.   Wasps   are   voracious   predators   of   butterflies,   and   any   reduction   in their   population   is   beneficial,   either   by   trapping   individuals,   or   even   better,   finding   and disposing   of   the   nest,   keeping   the   use   of   pesticides   to   a   minimum.   Butterflies   and   bees are   very   sensitive   to   chemicals   and   a   spray   which   will   kill   “pests”   will   equally   kill   the   insects we’re trying to protect. Even many organic sprays will still kill bees and butterflies.
Inspector Insector
Gardening for butterflies & bees It   has   been   said   that   flowers   are   food   for   the   soul,   but   for   many   creatures   butterflies    and    bees,    flowers    are    critical    to    their    survival    so    in    turn,    critical    survival!    The Problem: The   trend   towards   low   maintenance   gardening   has   resulted   in   more   shrubs   annuals   and   perennials.   This   is   a   disaster   for   nectar   feeders,   as   annuals   and   have   a   much   longer   flowering   period,   providing   nectar   and   pollen   over   season.   This   is   but   one   contributing   factor   in   the   worldwide   decline   in   the   butterflies and bees.    The Solution: Creating   gardens   with   plenty   of   flowers   is   a   simple   first   step   in   encouraging   At   Earthlore   we   sell   our   own   blends   of   wildflower   seeds,   one   for   butterflies   pollinators,   though   there   are   varieties   in   both   mixes   which   will   appeal   equally   butterflies and other pollinating insects.    The   next   step   is   to   consider   the   needs   for   their   entire   life-cycle.   While   bees   with   a   variety   of   nectar   rich   flowers,   for   butterflies   it   is   critical   to   have   the   their caterpillar stage nearby.   This   means   knowing   what   the   host   plant   is   for   the   butterflies   you   are   trying   The   caterpillar   host   plant   differs   for   every   individual   species,   with   probably   known    being    the    swan    plant    for    the    Monarch    butterfly,    but    there    are    beautiful native butterflies you can encourage into your garden.   The    host    plants    for    our    native    Admiral    butterflies    are    nettles,    the    Yellow    preferring    the    common    while    the    Red    Admiral    the   native   NZ   tree   ferox.   The   tree   nettle   country    having    contributing   to   the   to   include   the   tree   be a good alternative.   Several   species   of   beautiful   little   Copper   roadsides   romping   for   the   caterpillars,   tamer   alternatives   height to 2 metres, or M. axillaris a low growing ground-cover.   At   Earthlore   we   have   and have been excited to see a significant rise in the local butterfly population. As    well    as    food,    themselves,   and   males    only,    and    shallow   saucer   with   while at the same time provide drinking water for bees.   With   these   basics   wasps   from   the   area.   their   population   disposing   of   the   are   very   sensitive   we’re trying to protect. Even many organic sprays will still kill bees and butterflies.