Q: I live in a development that has one landscaping company for mowing and another company for chemical applications. I have not seen one butterfly all summer. Are other people experiencing this, too? Am I alone? Why don’t I have any?
Answer: There could be several reasons. Do you have plants that attract butterflies? Some include milkweed, firebush, coreopsis, canna lily, Mexican heather, blanket flower, whirling butterfly, purple coneflower, beach sunflower, scorpion tail, daylily, shrimp plant, impatiens, flamingo plant, pentas, firespike, plumbago, black-eyed Susan, salvia/sage and porterweed.
These are just a few of the perennials we can grow here. If you don’t have some or any of these plants, you may want to consider adding them to your landscape. If you have some or many of these plants and still don’t have butterflies, it’s possible chemical applications are killing the butterflies. You may want to talk with your homeowner association board or property management company to determine the frequency of chemical applications and types of chemicals used.
A friend of mine had dozens of butterflies dying in her landscape, and it was due to chemical spraying on nectar plants. To attract butterflies, you need larval and nectar plants. For additional information on larval host plants and adult butterfly food sources, please see the University of Florida publication “Butterfly Gardening in Florida” by Jaret C. Daniels, Joe Schaefer, Craig N. Huegel and Frank J. Mazzotti at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw057.
Another excellent article is “Community Butterfly Scaping: How to Move Beyond Butterfly Gardening to Create a Large-scale Butterfly Habitat” by Kathy C. Malone, Wendy Wilber, Gail Hansen, Jaret C. Daniels, Claudia Larsen and Esen Momol at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep420. It provides additional information on butterfly plants and how butterfly scaping blends with the nine Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles.
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at Hillsborough Extension.. Reach her at BarberL@hillsboroughcounty.org.