by Jackie Ravenscroft
Creating butterfly-friendly gardens has become a very popular past-time among Americans wanting to protect them from extinction. When creating such a butterfly garden, most focus is placed on planting shrubs and flowers that will attract butterflies to the garden.
While this is definitely a great strategy to employ, it is important to also consider any additional needs the pretty pollinators may have. If you want your garden to be as welcoming to butterflies as possible, add a puddler or two that provides vital nutrients and also serves as a resting station.
Research has found that even Monarchs, who are not typically known for puddling, will welcome the presence of a puddler on an extremely hot and humid day. Here are a few things to take note of when making a puddler for your own garden.
Understand the Purpose of the Puddler
Before you start gathering your materials and assembling your puddler, you should understand the purpose of it. There are many varieties of butterflies that enjoy nothing more than to get together on mud and wet sand to ‘puddle’. This involves not only drinking water but also extracting valuable minerals from the mud.
Puddling is one of the only ways butterflies can add these vital nutrients to their diets as herbivorous insects often do not get enough sodium and other minerals from plants alone. This behavior is more common in male butterflies as they incorporate the extra salt and minerals into their sperm.
Pick Your Spot Carefully
A butterfly puddler will undoubtedly be a great addition to any wildlife-friendly garden. To get the most out of it, however, you need to find the perfect spot for it. Aim for a place close to butterfly-friendly plants that are both sunny as well as protected. If you have pets, you might want to refrain from placing your puddler on the ground unless you can ensure that the area is not accessible by a curious cat or dog. Luckily, butterflies will find your puddler with ease even if you place it on a raised platform such as a table or, alternatively, hang it from a wall or tree branch.
If you make a portable puddler, you can even move it around your garden during the course of the day or according to the season.
Have Fun Assembling Your Puddler
Once you have decided where you want to put your puddler, you can gather your materials and start assembling it. Start by spreading a thin layer of sand on the bottom of a shallow dish or rock.
Material to Make Butterfly Puddler
Sea sand is always a good choice as it is not only coarse enough to not turn into complete sludge but it also naturally contains salt as well as a host of other nutrients. Add some rocks to your puddler so that the butterflies have a safe, dry place to land.
Depending on how hands-on you want to be you can either keep your puddler moist by watering it daily or as required, or by putting a wet kitchen sponge in the middle of the puddler so that the water can slowly seep into the sand. If you want a puddler at ground level, simply bury your dish so that its lip is level with the ground and surround it with plants and flowers that will attract an array of pollinators.
By adding a paddler to your garden you will make instantly make it more appealing to visiting butterflies. Not only will a puddler provide the beautiful pollinators with a place to rest, but also the opportunity to replenish important nutrient levels.