Here is a look back to this summer at a butterfly on butterfly – in this case it is the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on a Butterfly Bush (Buddleia). Look at all the glorious details on this stunning individual! Bask in the warm glow of the hot sun on the beautiful orange wings. Do you feel less cold yet?
Butterfly bushes are a difficult subject. On the one hand, they are non-native, and it seems that in certain areas and regions they can readily spread and exclude some of our native vegetation. Native plants also often do provide more nutrition for native species of insects, birds, and so on that have evolved to depend on them. On the other hand, the butterfly bush is already a favorite among many homeowners, and often times these people do not have even the slightest understanding of conservation or its status. They enjoy its look and welcome many butterflies to their yard which may otherwise be devoid of plant life or nectar sources. These same people may be “converted” into loving our pollinators and advocating for them, even donating to non-profits and causes, all because of the activity in their yard. Many people more in the know use them to attract butterflies intentionally among other native species, and they may end up producing a net benefit, especially if they control any spread of a bush or two in an isolated yard.
These kind of issues are not easy to deal with, and while perhaps it is best to keep it native in most cases, we must always be careful not to vilify all those people we need to care about our pollinators. Education, understanding and some common sense seem like they can create a perfect middle ground for our neighbors – winged or not.
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator