India have a rich diversity in butterfly species.Urban areas and mega cities also have a significant number of butterfly population.That means you can you can attract butterflies to your garden even in the concrete jungles.The idea behind a butterfly garden is not just to attract butterflies to your arrangement, but also to encourage them to make it their home. For that you have to make sure that butterflies are provided with all the necessary requirements for their living and reproduction.
Food for adults– Nectar flowers and Decaying matter.
Most butterfly species has their preferred nectar plants but most adult butterflies will feed on a variety of nectar sources. They are mostly attracted to colorful clustered flowers with small size. Butterflies drink through their proboscis, a tube shaped tongue which uncoils to suck in liquid food and coils up when not in use.
There are several butterfly species that feed on liquids from decaying organic matters and animal droppings. Because of this feeding habit, floor of butterfly garden should not be cleaned completely of decaying leaves and flowers.
Food for larva– Host plants.
These are the plants or trees on which adult butterflies lay their eggs. Each butterfly species have their preferred host plant or plants as their caterpillars can feed only on leaves of selected plant species.
Butterflies are cold blooded (Octothermic) creatures. So they need plenty of sunlight to warm up and become active, especially in the morning. For this reason your butterfly garden should get plenty of sunlight and there should be no tall structures or trees blocking sunlight from the east direction. Also make sure that there is enough shade providing plants in your garden as butterflies can’t handle too
Water – Mud puddle.
Butterflies sip moisture from mud puddles to absorb salts and minerals from soil. behavior is mostly seen in males as they need these nutrients for healthy reproduction. Butterflies get most of their nutrition from nectar. But they don’t get enough sodium and minerals from it. They procure these nutrients from animal urine, dung and decaying matter. Thus a very shallow mud puddle is an important part of your butterfly garden, as butterflies can’t drink from pots or pools like birds and other insects. Mud puddle should be in an open area with direct sunlight.
Never use any pesticides or weedicides in or around your butterfly garden .This rule applies to both organic and chemical pesticides as these chemicals will cause heavy damage on butterflies and their caterpillars. Also try to use only organic fertilizers for the plants for the better health of larva feeding on them.
Butterflies are prey to a variety of lizards, spiders and birds, which makes them naturally very sensitive to movements around. This behavior should be kept in mind while planning your butterfly garden. Make sure that your garden is away from constant human interference. Create a pathway 4 feet wide between the plants for you to move freely.
Common nectar plants for butterfly garden-
Lantana, Marigold, cosmos, Indian heliotrope, Pagoda Flower, Ixora, Milk weeds.
Larval host plants for butterflies
Aristolochia indica (Garudakkodi) -Southern bird wing, Common Rose, Crimson Rose
Cassia fistula (Kanikonna)- Emigrants and Grass yellows.
Murraya koeniggi (curry leaf)and Citrus (Lime)- Common Mormon,Lime Butterfly.
Polyalthia longifolia (Aranamaram)- Tailed Jay, Common Jay, Blue Bottle.
Click here for a detailed PDF list of host plants and butterflies >>