Did you know that there are more than 670 species of butterflies in South Africa, and at least 10 times more as many species of moth?

    That’s according to “Bring Nature Back To Your Garden”, a really great reference book for South African gardeners. It’s written by a Durban couple, Charles & Julia Botha, who have years of experience between them. The book is full of great tips for people who enjoy their outdoor space. There is a chapter in this book about attracting butterflies and moths to your garden, but the couple have also published a separate title on the subject – “Bring Butterflies Back to your Garden”

      A garden populated with butterflies is a garden full of light and moving colour. Unfortunately, with the spread of urbanization, natural areas are being bricked over and gardens are becoming smaller, leaving less space for butterflies and moths to flourish. Females need lots of sticky leaves on which to lay their eggs and the larvae won’t survive without an abundance of good food around them when they eventually eat through their shell.

        Indigenous gardeners who wish to turn their gardens into own mini nature reserves will be rewarded with a beautiful show of pretty butterflies.

        What to do to attract butterflies:

          Give up on having the perfect foliage

            Accept that leaves are meant to have holes in them, and not be the perfect shape. In their natural state, leaves and plants are propagated by visiting insects and there’s a really good reason for this – it’s what they eat! Larvae will eat holes in your leaves as soon as they can, but the good news is that they are growing and will soon transform into the most beautiful butterflies, so be patient.

              Give them lots to drink

                If your garden is the equivalent of the Sahara Desert for butterflies, they won’t be interested. While some butterflies don’t eat in their adult stage, they all like to drink. They’ll look for nectar, but some will also be attracted to fruit juice and fermenting tree sap.

                  There are lots of good indigenous plants that are a really good source of nectar. Small white to pink, mauve or blue flowers are really attractive to butterflies.

                    Give them camouflage

                      Camouflage is a vital survival mechanism, and often the underside of the wing closely resembles dead leaves, so much so that the butterfly disappears when it settles in the garden. So don’t always clear out your garden beds, allow natural decay to occur, it doesn’t have to overwhelm your garden, just enough to add that texture on which butterflies thrive.