Photo Credit: Michael Lawrence/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Recently, my family visited the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center in Westminster, Colorado. It is a small but fascinating indoor collection of living butterflies, a tropical greenhouse for butterflies.. There also is a small insect "zoo" with domestic and foreign spiders, beetles, bees and other insects. If you live in the Denver area or are traveling there, don't miss it! You may also want to check with your local zoo. There are about a dozen butterfly houses across the U.S.
It's easy to create or convert your garden into a private retreat for native butterflies. Butterflies use plants during each stage of their life cycle: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult (butterfly). A butterfly garden that included plants for the entire life cycle will attract the greatest number and variety of native butterflies.
Many flowers provide a good source of nectar to attract the adults. When the butterfly detects something sweet, it will extend its coiled proboscis and probe into the flower for nectar. Choose a variety of plants that will bloom at different times of the season to make your garden more attractive to a wider assortment of butterflies. Plant the flowers in clusters of each species, and create a garden that includes several different colors and flower heights. Clusters of flowers are easier for the butterflies to locate than individual plants. A mixture of annuals, perennials and biennials will allow you to experiment with different flower combinations each year as you discover which species work best for your area.