Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Aug. 2, 2006)
Dont bug the insects
Palmetto bugs are not on most Floridians popularity list. Flies dont
rate high up there on the list either and arent normally included on the
guest registry for outdoor parties, but who wouldnt invite a butterfly?
|Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
|A large, unmistakable
butterfly is the tiger swallowtail.
Yes, they are all insects, however, its quite unlikely to see pink and
lavender embroidered earwigs on a little girls T-shirt or stain glass
silverfish embellishing the local restaurants Tiffany style lamps
the difference is? Butterflies have pizzazz. Theyre symbolic of freedom,
summer days and flowering fields of wildflowers. Butterflies are pure elegance and
fragile beauty all mixed into one package. Harmless, they come in an assortment of
jewel-like colors, sparkling and fluttering like gifted ballet dancers throughout
our gardens. Lets face it butterflies are fascinating insects that we love to
love. Not to mention that the life cycle of butterflies is just short of
The University of Maines Cooperative Extension, Bulletin #2490 offers these
tips on how to maintain and attract beneficial insects, such as butterflies, to our
Dont use chemicals. If you must apply pesticides, stick with less
toxic ones such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), neem, dormant oils and insecticidal
Provide water. A simple dish or pan filled with pebbles will provide
drinking water for a variety of insects.
Provide shelter. Leaving some leaf litter and debris under shrubs may
provide beneficial insects a place to hide during adverse conditions such as hot
Increase the diversity of your landscape. Grow a variety of plants to
support a variety of insects. Dont be overly concerned with neatness,
Do not use zapper lights that electrocute insects. These lights may kill
more beneficial insects than pests.
Try to have an early bloomer, such as sweet alyssum or butterfly weed,
ready so the beneficial parasites can feed on nectar and pollen. The appetites of
beneficials may peak before your garden does.
Choose their favorite plants. As a general rule, beneficial insects like
tiny flowers that offer both pollen and nectar.
A large, unmistakable butterfly is the tiger swallowtail. Some tiger swallowtails
have been recorded with 51¼2 inch wingspans, as noted in the Audubon Society
Field Guide to North American Butterflies. This guide describes males and some
females as yellow above and below with black tiger stripes. Tiger
swallowtails prefer woodsy, broadleaf gardens, parks and habitats such as orange
orchards. Host plants listed for the tiger swallowtail include broadleaf trees,
shrubs and willows.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.