There are only 2 weeks until Spring! Each Spring, I plant milkweed in the Outdoor Classroom, so the children can watch the entire butterfly life cycle play out in front of their eyes. They get so excited! I get so excited! We observe the teeny, tiny caterpillars and the leaves they munch. We watch the caterpillars grow and then hunt to find where they chose to spin their chrysalises. Finally, when the timing is right, we get to see the butterflies actually emerge and fly around the garden. I mean, seriously, it’s incredibly fun and incredibly educational! The best part is it’s SO easy, you can do it, too! Here are 6 easy steps taken from onegreenplanet.org:
How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden
- Ditch the pesticides. This doesn’t mean you can’t do pest control in your garden, but certain pesticides, particularly malathion, Sevin, and diazinon, will kill butterflies.
- Grow native plants. Growing native plants in your garden will support pollinators like butterflies.
- Keep the sun in mind. Butterflies typically only feed in full sun.
- Plant the right colors. Butterflies like bright colors. Think red, yellow, orange, pink and purple. And make sure the blossoms are flat-topped or have short flowering tubes.
- Plant the right milkweed. Monarchs only eat from the milkweed plant. But did you know that there are many types of milkweed? If you plant the wrong one for your region, it might not do monarchs any good.
- Create butterfly spas. They prefer to rest in full sun, so nice flat rocks, tables or chairs for them to sun in will bring these gorgeous creatures to your yard. They also love puddling, which is basically hanging out in damp sand or mud where they drink a little water and mineralize. You can create specific puddling spots for the butterflies by filling shallow dishes or pans with sand and a bit of water and placing them in sunny spots in your yard.
As the seasons change, there are many educational opportunities for our children. Nature starts to burst with color and animals families begin to emerge. Whether or not you create a butterfly garden, I hope you find other ways to enjoy and notice the change of seasons with your children.