Butterfly Article Preview

The print copy should be hitting the stands soon, but here is your Small Print preview:

Butterfly Garden: Growing (and Sharing) an Eco-System

It’s a warm and sunny day in late July. A Monarch butterfly spreads its wings and takes in the heat of the sun from its perch atop a slightly spiky purple coneflower. An American Goldfinch flits from my Saskatoon berry bush to a lilac, its neck craning side to side in search of insects. Two little girls have been granted permission to pick one flower each and are carefully selecting Black-eyed Susans to weave into their braids. Every once in a while, a neighbour will stop on the sidewalk to chat and comment on the colour and variety of blooms.

It’s just another day in our butterfly garden.

Butterfly gardens, you see, are nature’s perfect gathering place for a variety of species. There is the obvious, of course: butterflies. And you will find no shortage of them in my garden, everything from the instantly recognizable Monarch to the sleek and smooth Black Swallowtail, to my furry favourite, the Hairstreak.

But there is a host of other critters that make my garden home. Songbirds arrive early in the spring to feast on the dried seed heads I leave to overwinter. They stick around for the summer months to snack on caterpillars and other creepy crawlies that find the garden habitat so appealing.

The insect life itself is incredibly varied. There are countless species of bees and wasps (don’t worry, they’re not there to sting you), ladybugs, hoverflies (cool, little creatures that masquerade as wasps and munch on your plant-eating aphids), as well as a hidden city of life beneath the soil. I’ve been lucky enough to find Praying Mantises in my garden for the past three years. And while the Mantis is a known butterfly muncher, it is also perhaps the coolest thing a kid will ever find in a garden.

Finally, it is a wonderful gathering place for our species as well. Not only do adult neighbours stop to admire and chat, but it is a wonderful learning spot for kids. It is a great place to learn about habitat, ecosystems, life cycles, and caring for nature. It is also pretty darned neat.

Look for the rest of the article in the June editions of Peterborough Kids, Lakeridge Kids, or Northumberland Kids. Or come back here in June!