Attracting Butterflies

Watch butterflies in nearby areas to see which flowers they prefer.

Position plants in a sunny place, sheltered from the wind.

Avoid or limit your use of pesticides.

Provide a mud puddle in a sunny spot.

Try some plants in containers for increased flexibility.

Flowering plants easily attract butterflies. Buddleia, also referred to as the “Butterfly Bush,” is one of the best butterfly attracting plant in the world. It grows into rounded bushes that flower from mid-summer through fall. The small flowers are packed into huge clusters called panicles and display masses of color from white through pink and red, to mauve and dark purple.

A flowering plant that may attract a particular kind of butterfly found in one geographic area, may not necessarily attract butterflies in another location. Other factors such as latitude, humidity, and available sunlight help determine butterfly geographic distribution.

Mariposa road : the first butterfly big year
Robert Michael Pyle.
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.
Part road-trip tale, part travelogue of lost and found landscapes, all good-natured natural history,Mariposa Roadtracks Bob Pyle’s journey across the United States as he races against the calendar
in his search for as many of the 800 American butterflies as he can find.
Like Pyle’s classicChasing Monarchs,Mariposa Roadrecounts his adventures, high and low, in tracking down butterflies in his own low-tech, individual way. Accompanied by Marsha, his cottonwood-limb butterfly net; Powdermilk, his 1982 Honda Civic with 345,000 miles on the odometer; and the small Leitz binoculars he has carried for more than thirty years, Bob ventured out in a series of remarkable trips from his Northwest home.
From the California coastline in company with overwintering monarchs to the Far Northern tundra in pursuit of mysterious sulphurs and arctics; from the zebras and daggerwings of the Everglades to the leafwings, bluewings, and border rarities of the lower Rio Grande; from Graceland to ranchland and Kauai to Key West, these intimate encounters with the land, its people, and its fading fauna are wholly original. At turns whimsical, witty, informative, and inspirational,Mariposa Road is an extraordinary journey of discovery that leads the reader ever farther into butterfly country and deeper into the heart of the naturalist.
Butterflies : decoding their signs & symbols
Philip Howse.
Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books, 2010.
A pioneering exploration of butterfly markings and how humans respond to them.People have always marveled at the colors, patterns and designs on the wings of butterflies and moths, but there has been little attempt to decode them or to recognize any great significance in them.In Butterflies: Decoding Their Signs & Symbols Philip Howse explains how these markings protect butterflies and moths from their principal predators, including birds, lizards and monkeys. These insectivores, he argues, detect their prey by perceiving small details of shape and color rather than the "whole picture" of the insect. These details can create an illusion that camouflages the butterfly or threatens its predator.If humans look at the detail on a butterfly in the way that a bird sees it, surprising images reveal themselves: owls' eyes, snakes' heads, caterpillars, lizards, wasps, scorpions, birds' beaks, feathers. Howse explores how these signs and symbols, so important in the animal world, became archetypal symbols in our world. Photographs and illustrations chronicle how butterflies and their markings have appeared throughout history, whether on cave walls and in modern art or in our most important mythologies, where they were transformed into the Mother Goddesses by the ancient Greeks, the ancient Egyptians and the Aztecs.Butterflies: Decoding Their Signs & Symbols is a fascinating illustrated study of butterflies, but it also poses provocative questions and offers conclusions that will leave readers with a new view of the natural world and how they perceive it. Naturalists and lepidopterists will find it of particular interest.
The dangerous world of butterflies : the startling subculture of criminals, collectors, and conservationists
Peter Laufer.
Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, c2009.
A true tale of beauty and obsession, smugglers and scientists, and nature's most enigmatic creature
Butterflies of the Southwest
Jim P. Brock.
Tucson, Ariz. : Rio Nuevo Publishers, c2008.
Tucson resident Brock (coauthor of Butterflies of Southeastern Arizona and Butterflies of North America) offers information on locating and identifying some 135 of the region's species of butterflies. The field guide includes species accounts with color photographs, notes on conservation, a glossary, and suggested further reading. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Do butterflies bite? : fascinating answers to questions about butterflies and moths
Hazel Davies, Carol A. Butler ; with illustrations by William H. Howe.
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2008.
Do Butterflies Bite? brings to life the science and natural history of butterflies and moths. Beautifully illustrated, the book contains intriguing facts, including everything from basic biology to issues in butterfly conservation. Find tips on how to attract, photograph, and even raise butterflies. Extensive appendices provide organizations, websites, and over 200 public exhibits where you can learn more. Book jacket.

Here is some butterfly trivia:

  • There are between 15,000 to 20,000 kinds of butterflies throughout the world.
  • The word butterfly comes from the Old English word, “buterfleoge,” meaning butter and flying creature.
  • Butterflies are cold-blooded. However, most butterflies cannot fly if it is below fifty degrees. So, to ensure they are able to fly, many butterflies bask on a rock in a nice sunny spot. This helps to increase their body temperature.
  • Butterflies can see red, green, and yellow. They also can see color in the ultraviolet range.  This reveals patterns on flowers—and other butterflies—that we can't see.
  • Pacific Grove, California is considered “Butterfly Town U.S.A” where each year masses of migrating Western Monarch Butterfly migrate each winter.
  • The Easter Monarchs fly to central Mexico and can migrate 2,000 miles or more.

More about butterflies

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff