The Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year. They offer a wonderful pre-visitation guide for educators (pdf) - great for the kids, and includes information on the parts of the butterfly, butterfly behaviour, Lepidoptera Trivia, info on the lifecycle, colors and patterns, and Monarch migration.
I printed this guide for Hannah. :)
more random information about butterflies:
Ontario Butterfly Gardening
Gallery of Ontario's Butterflies
- Monarchs can incorporate toxins from plants into their own tissue, making them poisonous or distasteful to predators.
- Some butterflies can can plot routes to visit the same choice plant at the same time each day, and they will only select the most nectarrich flowers on which to lay their eggs.
There's a woman who lives somewhere in my area who has been attracting Monarchs to her garden for years, and has apparently enjoyed these spectacular visitors with great success. I'd like to see her garden. Sue S. told me about her and her Monarchs one morning last Spring when I walked the 55 Plus Centre path towards work. I believe the woman's name is Zora -( I hope I see Sue again soon, once I start working the River Street greenhouse - hopefully she can refresh my memory. I'd like to contact "the Monarch lady" to ask some advice. :))
Gardens that contain a diversity of native
plants provide a safe haven for butterflies to
reproduce and develop.
- Choose a sunny, sheltered location for your butterfly garden. Cold-blooded butterflies need warm temperatures to fly and feed actively, and most host plants do best in full sun. Place a flat rock in a sunny area as a basking spot for butterflies to warm themselves on.
• Include larval host plants such as those listed on the back of this sheet. Don’t worry about caterpillars defoliating your plants. They are generally quite specific in their food choices and their host plants have adapted to tolerate their feeding.
• Select plants with bright, fragrant flowers that are tubular or flat-topped. These formations enable butterflies to access the nectar with their long, siphoning “tongue”, or proboscis.
• Create mud puddles in the garden. Butterflies use these as a source of water and additional nutrients. A small area of exposed soil in the garden is the perfect spot to encourage puddling.
• Avoid pesticides in your garden. Butterflies and caterpillars are very sensitive to these chemicals and even the slightest exposure can be fatal.
• Caterpillars outgrow their skin several times before they are full grown. Each molting marks a new growth stage called an instar.
• Most butterfly caterpillars do not spin a cocoon. In their final instar, their skin hardens into a protective chrysalis around the pupa.
• Many caterpillars use mimicry or camouflage to protect themselves from predators. The tiger swallowtail caterpillar has false ‘eyes’ on its head to frighten predators. The white admiral caterpillar is mottled grey and white, resembling bird droppings.
• Bright colouring can also be a defense. The black, white and yellow striping of the monarch caterpillar warns would-be predators of its bad taste.
• Butterfly wings are covered with tiny scales, resembling roof shingles, that are arranged in distinctive colour patterns. Depending on the species, these patterns may help with protection from predators, and/or location of a mate.
• Butterflies have taste sensors in their feet that help them to locate nectar sources and larval hostplants. They feed on nectar through a straw-like proboscis that coils up when not in use.
• The length of time a butterfly lives varies from species to species. Some live only a few weeks, while others, like the mourning cloak, may live for months because they overwinter as adults.
• butterflies have clubs on the end of their antennae, while moths do not.
Holmes, Anthony et al. The Ontario Butterfly Atlas. Toronto Entomologists Association, 1991.
Johnson, Lorraine. 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens. Random House of
Layberry, Ross et al. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press, 1998.
Toronto Entomologists Association www.ontarioinsects.org
Xerces Society/Smithsonian Institute. Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden. Random House of Canada, 1998.
Butterfly Garden, Host Plants for Caterpillars:
- ash (green and white)
- butterfly weed
- common milkweed
- New Jersey tea
- spice bush
- wild bergamot
- black-eyed Susan
- blazing star
- Joe-pye weed
- pale purple
- swamp milkweed
- bee balm