No one can deny that we are living in stressful times right now. One of the ways I like to deal with stress is by gardening, planting, and spending as much time enjoying nature as I can. I’m so happy to be partnering with Bayer Crop Science and HabiTally on this sponsored post sharing how you can use gardening, not just to relieve stress, but to help the struggling butterfly population as well.
Why should we love butterflies?
Butterflies can symbolize many different things to people. Some love to watch their graceful visits to colorful flowers (I find it relaxing to watch them floating about), some are drawn to the symbolism of their metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. Others love them simply for the fact that, like honeybees, they are pollinators and are essential to maintaining the health of many habitats and ecosystems.
One of the most easily recognized butterflies is the monarch butterfly. Sadly, its numbers have been on the decline lately due to the shrinking availability of its food and habitat. In 2020, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will determine whether or not to add the monarch butterfly to the endangered species list.
Since our house is coming up on 27 years old, we are reaching that point where we are ripping up much of the old landscaping and replacing it. We have a few spots where I was wanting to grow flowers and, after learning about the plight of the monarch butterflies, I decided to plant a “butterfly garden” in those areas.
What is a butterfly garden?
A butterfly garden is simply a flower garden that contains flowers specifically for their ability to attract and/or nurture butterflies. Butterfly gardens can range from ones that contain flowers that just attract butterflies with their vibrant colors to ones that have been specifically designed to provide food and shelter to the caterpillars as well as the hatched butterflies. Choosing flowers that both feed the butterflies AND encourage them to lay their eggs is preferred.
I headed down to my local garden center and chose some flower seeds that are specifically designated as a “butterfly mix”. I also grabbed some additional soil as our area has a lot of clay and makes it difficult for plants to establish a decent root structure without some added cushioning of extra topsoil. I threw some liquid fertilizer in my cart as well and checked out.
As anxious as I’ve been to get going on my project, I really need to wait until after Memorial Day. The seed packet specifically says to wait until after the threat of frost has passed, I and I’ve learned my lesson after jumping the gun other years with my vegetables. As much as I would find it therapeutic to be out digging in the dirt right now, this is Wisconsin and it could still frost.
In an effort to support those who are trying to keep the monarch butterfly off the endangered species list, the HabiTally app has been launched. This app helps ensure that all habitats that have been created are documented. HabiTally will collect this information and anonymously aggregate it at the county level. By downloading the app, you will be able to see the efforts being made to protect pollinators nationwide.
How do you enter your butterfly garden into HabiTally?
First, you will need to download and install the app.
Then you simply drop a pin on the map to mark where you created your butterfly habitat and enter any key characteristics (planted milkweed, nectar flowers, etc).
HabiTally will automatically calculate the size of your habitat based on the information you enter. There is even a place to add if you’ve seen monarchs in your habitat.
Other places to find information about monarch habitats and conservation:
• Farmers for Monarchs – farmersformonarchs.org
• Monarch Watch – monarchwatch.org
• Monarch Joint Venture – monarchjointventure.org
• Pheasants Forever – pheasantsforever.org
• NRCS – nrcs.usda.gov
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – fws.gov
• Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund – beeandbutterflyfund.org