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Beautiful Butterfly!
Monday, 24 March 2014 13:00

In South Africa we have an amazing number of 850 different types of butterflies, and even 10 times that number of moths. This is outstanding, because Briton only has 70 different butterfly types. Even though we can say we have that many, it is sad to say that many of our species are facing eviction from their natural habitats through urbanisation, and the destruction of their natural environment. Butterflies have outwitted predators for many years through their exquisite camouflaged canvases. They may be able to outwit humans when they are trying to catch them without a net but if humans cause the destruction of their foodplants as well as their breeding grounds there is not much they can do. Butterflies and their larva will feed on exotic plants, but they would much rather prefer indigenous plants. Some butterflies depend solely on one or a small number of indigenous plant species for their survival. In turn these plants will depend on those butterflies for pollination, and therefore their very own survival. Having a huge variety of butterflies in your garden does not mean that you will have millions of caterpillars eating up all your plants. You need to be prepared to keep a well-balanced garden and also keep in mind that if your garden plants are indigenous they will survive a caterpillar pruning with greater ease and will grow back with extra vooma! To have a well-balanced garden you need to remember that you should have little homes for all the natural predators such as praying mantis, birds, geckos, spiders, and wasps as well as the beautiful butterflies that you would like to attract into your garden. A healthy ecosystem in your garden will assist with keeping the caterpillar numbers down and at the same time it will encourage their arrival. For the butterflies ensure you have enough protected spots with sun and no wind but also have hide away spots for your predators such as logs, rocks and shrubs. Do not spray chemicals on your plants as this will simply kill everything including butterflies and the predators. In the photo below of Plectranthus ecklonii (Large Spur Flower Bush) will attract butterflies such as the Cacyreus lingeus, Precis tugela tugela, Precis orithya madagascariensis, Precis archesia, Precis octavia sesamus, and the Precis ceryne ceryne. Please keep in mind that you will not be able to attract a Cape butterfly to a Johannesburg garden by planting a Cape flora. Rather plant an indigenous species that is relevant to your area. Tip: If you are trying to attract butterflies into your garden make sure that you have plenty of flowering plants and also remember that butterflies are attracted to mainly purple and blue flowers.alt

 

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