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Garden Allies: Butterflies

Articles: Garden Allies: Butterflies


California Dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice) Illus: Craig Latker

For children living in a tropical wonderland spotting yet another example of the extraordinary variety of life seems almost commonplace, or at least not unexpected. Yet, even as a child living in Singapore, I instantly knew that to see Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana) in its natural habitat, in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, was a memory to be treasured forever. Butterflies are well-loved even by gardeners who profess profound dislike for other insects. Mythologies and folk stories, art, music, and literature are all rich with butterfly imagery.

Butterfly gardens filled with nectar-rich flowering plants are popular in public and private landscapes. However, asking where the caterpillar garden is located is likely to be met with disbelief. The vision of tattered foliage draped on bare branches gives pause to many a well-meaning butterfly gardener facing the prospect of providing sustenance for these voracious leaf-eating insects. Yet without caterpillars, there would be no butterflies. [sidebar] The obligate eco...


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