Beckon Beneficial Butterflies

If you garden, they will come.

| July/August 2008

Sheila Boone is on a timely mission: She wants to help the Western Monarch.

Butterflies like the Western Monarch have received a lot of attention in recent years, but many other butterfly species throughout North America need your help. Reason: According to the American Farmland Trust, rural land in North America is falling to development at the rate of 3,000 acres every day. This profound habitat loss makes it harder for butterflies to find food and host plants critical to their survival, especially as they travel thousands of migratory miles.

Whether you live on a farm, or in a small town or suburb, with a little effort you can make an immediate difference. Here are a few practical tips for starting a butterfly garden or improving your current one.

On a wing and a prayer

“There is a worldwide pollination crisis, and I believe that the Monarch has become an ambassador for that issue,” says Boone, fifth great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Boone is founder of the Daniel Boone Butterfly Palace, which will be a live butterfly conservatory on the California Coast, where the Western Monarch’s overwintering habitats are located.

According to the Pollinator Partnership, the world is losing pollinators, which include butterflies, at an alarming rate. This loss is partic-ularly important to people because nearly 80 percent of the world’s food and fiber crops require pollination.

Historically, America’s farmers and gardeners have depended on butterflies to help pollinate their crops, but they did little to attract or nurture the delicate creatures.

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