Habitat Gardening (Part 2): Butterflies, Moths, Flies and Favorite Plants

Habitat Gardening (Part 2): Butterflies, Moths, Flies and Favorite Plants

My last article on habitat gardening introduced some basics and exciting things I learned about beneficial insects in gardens. This was after

About Linda Richards

My goal is to educate about the science of nature in layperson speak, through my writing, science and education background. I grew up in the Chicago area, loved living in Minneapolis before gravitating to the West, which is now home.


  1. Monika U. Moore says:

    Another well-written article Linda. My only concern would be the issue with tropical milkweed. It is not the milkweed that attracts disease. Butterflies carry diseases. When they fly from plant to plant illness is spread by exfoliated cells that slough off in flight over milkweed plants. This can happen no matter which milkweed your monarch butterflies are visiting. Our waystation grows lots of native milkweeds mostly Asclepias fascicularis, Narrow-leafed milkweed. But we also grow tropical milkweed Asclepias curassavica. Tropical milkweed has a faster recovery time than the native milkweeds. Meaning the leaves will reproduce faster after caterpillars have eaten them. Tropical also offers more cardenolides, that would be the milkweed sap that comes out of the leaves when you break one off. This substance helps to defend against predators. Cutting back your milkweed in the fall also rejuvenates your plant and brings it back fuller in the spring. Also if tropical had the ability to change the monarchs life cycle, then they would never leave their overwintering sights in Mexico. Truth is in California we have monarchs that don’t leave our State. We also have monarchs that migrate to us from West of the Rocky Mountains. When butterfly mating season rolls around some of these butterflies commingle. Grow your milkweed conscientiously. Best way to avoid disease is to sanitize your butterfly eggs in a mild bleach solution. This step will kill pathogens on the outside of your eggs that were passed to the egg from an infected female monarch butterfly. A caterpillar’s first meal is its egg. Next step would be to also bleach all the milkweed you feed your caterpillars. Now, these steps take a very serious approach to being a steward and lending Mother Nature a helping hand. It’s like vaccinating your kids. Once a caterpillar is sick there is no cure. Off my soapbox now. You can check out facebook.com/CaliforniaButterflyLady for helpful tips on raising butterflies.

    • Linda Richards says:

      Thanks Monika, there are definitely different views on this issue and I appreciate your comments. It would be great if people sanitized their butterfly eggs but I’m not sure many will do that – me included I must admit!

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