Week at a Glance:
- Books for Kids GIVEAWAY: The Seeds of the Milkweed
- Written & Illustrated by The Second Grade Students of East End Elementary
- DIY Backyard Butterfly House made with Window Screens
- Butterfly Garden Plants
- Butterfly Gardening with Children
- Monarch Butterflies
- Monarch Butterfly Plants
Build a Butterfly House in a Weekend!
Last week, I introduced MacGyver’s very own Backyard Butterfly House. Please visit last week’s post to follow all of the step by step directions for his DIY Butterfly House. We built this DIY birthday present in one weekend!
If you’re not ready for an entire Butterfly House you might want to checkout MacGyver’s Backyard Science Center.
Books for Kids GIVEAWAY: The Seeds of the Milkweed
Written & Illustrated by The Second Grade Students of East End Elementary
Why we love this book:
My children have been fascinated with butterflies for quite a few years now. They are especially interested in monarch butterflies and their migration through the Texas Hill Country and the South Texas Central area where we live. We have read books on monarchs, watched documentaries on monarchs, attended lectures on monarchs and have even planted our very own monarch butterfly garden. With all of this in mind, I was very excited to find a book about monarch butterflies and the milkweed plant written and illustrated by second grade students. It is a delightful science book written in a similar pattern to This is the House That Jack Built.
Unfortunately, I found this book at a Scholastic Book Fair and have not found it available new online. So if you are the winner of this cute science book written for children by children, you will have snagged a hard to find collectable! Come back over the next few weeks for more activities and chances to win.
Planting a Butterfly Garden with Kids
Host and Nectar Plants
If you want an abundance of butterflies in your butterfly garden, you need to plant both host plants and nectar plants.
Host Plants provide a place for caterpillars to lay their eggs and a food source for the caterpillars.
Let’s face it, most of us DO NOT LIKE the caterpillars munching up our beloved plants. But if you don’t have host plants you will have less butterflies. The solution … MacGyver plants host plants for his butterflies and I plant extra plants for me.
Some Easy Butterfly Host Plants:
- Pipevine (Very cool plant and caterpillars! But be prepared the cool caterpillars will mow down your cool plant!)
- Milkweed (*required for monarchs)
Nectar Plants provide a food source for adult butterflies. They also make our gardens beautiful. A win, win for the butterflies and us!
Some Easy Nectar Plants
- Blue Mist
- (*By far a butterfly favorite. Loved by monarchs when paired with milkweed host plant.)
- Butterfly Bush
Creating a Butterfly Habitat
- You don’t have to start with an acre garden! Have a go with a simple container garden.
- Chose a sunny site for your butterfly garden as most host and nectar plants grow best in sunny areas.
- Add rocks to provide a basking zone for the butterflies to regulate their temperature.
- Provide a wind break such as a wall, fence or shrub. Butterflies prefer areas sheltered from the wind.
- Add a water puddle dish or a birdbath for the butterflies to drink.
- You can also add fruit, especially over ripe bananas.
Planting a Monarch Butterfly Garden
Queen Butterfly – often confused with a monarch but has white dots on wings.
Monarch butterfly Numbers are on the Decline
One reason for the monarch decline is that native milkweeds are also on the decline. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed. Milkweed is the ONLY host plant on which the monarch butterfly lays her eggs.
Native Milkweed Host Plants
You may find it hard to purchase native milkweeds to your area as some consider them more of a weed. We purchased tropical milkweed for our monarch garden as recommended by our local natural gardening nursery. However, we have learned that tropical milkweed may not be the best choice for monarch butterflies as it flowers late into the fall and winter, negatively prolonging the monarch’s migration pattern. We also learned that it is important to purchase milkweed that has NOT been grown with pesticides. The pesticides will continue to linger in the milkweed, killing the caterpillars as they eat the plant.
We are finding it hard to locate native milkweed in our area. We have planted native seeds, hoping to begin native perennials in our garden.
Selecting and Finding Milkweed Native to Your Area
- Monarch Joint Venture provides information on monarchs, their migration and tips for planting a monarch garden.
- www.plantmilkweed.org lists milkweed species native to your area and provides links to finding seeds and plants in your area.
We’re GIVING AWAY one copy of The Seeds of the Milkweed
To enter this contest, use the Rafflecopter to answer the following question. After you leave a comment, you can move ahead with more entries. Answer the following question in the comments section of this post. There are both Eastern and Western monarchs. Do you sight monarchs in your area? (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.) The Rules: No entries after 11:59 pm Central Time, Sunday, April 5, 2015 The winner must be a resident of The United States. The winner will be selected at random and announced Monday, April 6, 2015. Check back to claim your prize. It might be you!
You can also enter at last week’s post: DIY Backyard Butterfly House
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