Creating a butterfly garden
Florida native plants are crucial to the state’s butterfly community.
“We’ve scraped and evicted a lot of our native landscapes out as we’ve developed the land,” stated Camacho, owner of Little Red Wagon Nursery.
According to the nursery, plants that evolved in Florida in the sandy soil are still the right plant, right place, based on sun or shade requirements.
“There are a lot of different reasons to put native plants back out. Erosion control is a big reason. Also, putting plants in the ground that don’t require as much water and don’t require any fertilizers,” explained Camacho.
Aside from not having to use fertilizers, some native plants also attract butterflies. Those host plants are where females lay their eggs, and then the caterpillar will eat from that plant. Nectar plants keep the butterflies around.
“The goal is to try to put back native plants and that’s what our wildlife needs, the butterflies, the bees, the wild bees and a lot of other wildlife species,” Camacho said. “The bottom of the food chain is super important, so feeding the insects works its way all the way up to the top of the food chain, which ultimately are humans.”
Camacho says you need host plants and nectar plants to have a lot of butterflies in your yard.
“One of the cool things is being able to watch the whole life-cycle of metamorphosis and people really enjoy that,” Camacho stated. “When you watch a butterfly lay an egg on a plant, eggs are really small, about the size of a pinhead, and then you can watch that egg and after about a week of so that egg will hatch and a caterpillar is there and will start munching on your plants. The caterpillar, of course, growing and growing and growing until they are ready to go into a chrysalis. Then a few days later, about a month’s cycle, you’re going to have a butterfly.”
In Florida, people will see butterflies as long as the temperature is above 50 degrees.
“Butterflies are like flying art and bringing that movement in brings joy to just about anybody.”
There are about 118-125 resident butterflies in the Tampa and Central Florida areas, but there are about 200 species that fly or migrate through the area.
Little Red Wagon is one of the few native nurseries in Hillsborough County. It has a full team that can help residents find what they need to start planting native.
LINK: Learn more about Little Red Wagon Nursery at https://littleredwagonnativenursery.com/.