Nothing screams spring louder than butterflies. I know butterflies are fairly quiet, but I think you know what I mean.
Bright sunshine, profusion of colour from flowers of all descriptions, sweet fragrance hanging in the air, the gentle hum of insects going about their business, and then to top it off, butterflies fluttering by in a seemingly aimless way without a care in the world.
The other thing that has always surprised me is the variety of different butterflies that occur in the Riverland and Mallee. I am not an entomologist’s bootlace so I won’t start describing them. However, If you like the idea of having butterflies around in your garden, I can help you there.
To keep butterflies coming to your garden, the best way is to feed them their natural food of nectar. Caterpillars will eat their choice of your plants, but if you want butterflies later you will need to be careful about not using insecticides that kill them at any stage of their life cycle. (Actually insecticides are made to kill them!) Why not go a step further, and use plants that butterflies lay their eggs specifically for caterpillars to eat?
Many plants will attract butterflies for nectar and/ or caterpillar food. The list that follows is specific to The Riverland and Mallee, in that the plants are not only suitable to grow here, but will also attract our local butterflies.
Acacia victoriae elegant wattle (Many wattles deserve a place in any garden, and most attract insects.)
Senna artemisioides desert cassia and Sturt’s desert cassia.
Dodonaea angustissima hop bush.
Eremophila or emu bushes, but especially E. alternitifolia, E. drummondii, E. ionantha, E. longifolia, macdonnellii, E. polyclada, E. santalina.
Geijera parvifolia wilga or Australian willow.
Helichrysum spp. paper daisies or straw flowers. Lomandra spp. mat rushes.
Olearia pimeloides daisy (in fact, most daisies seem to attract butterflies.)
Pimelea spp. rice flowers.
Swainsona spp. Includes Sturt’s desert pea).
Templtonia retusa cockies tounge (I have seen this stripped of leaves by caterpillars, but I put up with it as the butterflies that follow are well worth it.)
Themedia spp. kangaroo grass.
Thysanotus spp. fringe lilies.
There are plenty of other plants that will attract butterflies, but our local plants will allow butterflies to complete their life cycle so you will have them back year after year.
So get into spring, plant some plants from the list above, and you will be helping the butterflies, our fluttery friends.
This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © September 8, 2011.