These wonderful little creatures are welcome in most yards, adding life, colour and magic to the garden. They seem to magically appear and come to visit for a few days or weeks and then they disappear again.
A Lovely butterfly on a flower
Peacock butterfly on a flower.
Butterflies are cold-blooded creatures. This means that they use the warmth of the sun to warm them up and they don’t like to move around when it is cold. For this reason you will find butterflies in areas where it is warm in summer, or all year round. They don’t like cold areas and will not be found in places close to the poles, like the Antarctic or the Arctic regions.
It is for the same reason that you see less, if any, butterflies flying around on cold, cloudy days. If the day is warm and the sun is shining, then you will have a better chance of seeing some butterflies flying around.
Butterflies feed on nectar, usually from flowers, so they will only live in areas where there is food for them to eat. I don’t know if any butterflies have been found in desert areas, but I don’t think there would be because there are hardly any flowers. Also there are no nice juicy green leaves for the baby butterflies – the caterpillars.
Butterflies can live for anything from just one week to about 9 months, depending on the type of butterfly. If your area gets cold in winter then the butterflies that live through the winter will migrate to a warmer area and come back after winter.
The ones that have a short life will lay eggs that hatch into caterpillars. When the caterpillars grow up they turn into a chrysalis (pupa) and stay in this form until the spring. Only then do they come out of the chrysalis as butterflies. The chrysalis is often well hidden so we do not notice it, but we do notice the butterfly when it suddenly appears in the garden.
We know that butterflies need the sun to keep them warm, so when the sun starts to set they will go and find a safe place to sleep. This will usually be under a leaf, on the underside of a branch or even in cracks in rocks. They look for places that will give them shelter from rain and wind, and also from birds and other creatures that might eat them. You can even buy or make a butterfly house to give them a safe place to live in your garden.
Have you watched the butterflies in your garden and seen where they go when the sun starts to set? Do they sleep in your yard, or do they just visit during the day? Try to watch them and see if you need to help create a safe place for them to sleep or to get shelter on cold days.