How to attract butterflies
• Position your butterfly garden in a sunny spot. Butterflies rarely linger in shady areas.
• Plant plenty of nectar-rich flowers such as pentas, ageratum, nicotiana, sunflower, verbena, alyssum, marigold, heliotrope, flannel flower and Sedum spectabile. These can be grouped into a flowery meadow.
• For extra nectar, plant shrubs and trees such as banksia, bottlebrush, angophora and eucalypt.
• Find out about butterflies native to your area. Get to know what their caterpillars look like.
• Caterpillars are fussy eaters. Each has its favourite plants. Find out what they are and plant them.
• Join a butterfly group such as Butterfly Conservation South Australia or the Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club Inc.
• Avoid using poisonous pesticides.
• Avoid using products containing Bacillus thuringiensis.
• Place a shallow dish of muddy water in a sunny spot. You may find butterflies come to 'mud puddle'.
• Untame your garden- butterflies enjoy a bit of chaos.
• Tolerate chewed plant leaves- they're a small price to pay for the company of beautiful butterflies.
Flowers that typically have tubular or long flowers are pollinated by butterflies.
To attract larvae:
This swallowtail butterfly usually lays eggs on the non-native camphor laurel tree. However, it's not advisable to plant camphor laurel, because birds may disperse the seeds into bushland. Instead, plant natives of the laurel family. These species can be hard to find, so try a good native nursery. You'll recognise the caterpillar by its bright green colour and tapered tail.
This butterly is often hard to detect because its colours offer camouflage. The female is easier to spot as it's larger than the male and has brighter wings. The caterpillar has a brown head, is covered in bristles, and is either green, grey or brown. It enjoys feeding on grasses, especially those which belong to the poa family. One of the best native grasses for the caterpillars is kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra).
A pretty butterfly with a wingspan of just 4cm that's an all-year-round visitor to gardens in the tropics, and a summer and autumn caller further south. To entice it to breed in your garden, try growing the caterpillar's favourite food plants, such as cassia, wattle and native species of breynia. The caterpillar is well-camouflaged, so you'll need to look closely - it's green with a narrow, yellowish stripe.
If you have lemon or orange trees in your garden, you've probably seen this large swallowtail butterfly as it likes to lay its eggs on citrus trees. The caterpillars chew on the citrus leaves but rarely do serious damage. Native eriostemon is another good food plant for the caterpillars, which are bright green with white bands and edging. The female is more colourful than the male.
A brilliant blue colour, this beautiful butterfly is hard to miss. It lays its eggs on casuarina trees so its caterpillar can feed on the mistletoe which grows there. You'll often see the caterpillars with black ants in tow as, amazingly, the ants shelter and protect them. You'll recognise the caterpillar by its flattened appearance, dark-brown head, and dark-grey, mottled-brown colouring.
With a wingspan of up to 11cm, this threatened butterfly is one of Australia's largest. Home gardeners can help save it by growing native bird wing vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) and removing Dutchman's pipe vine, which is poisonous to the caterpillar. The caterpillar is black with black spines, or whitish with grey spines.
Originating in America, this butterfly was discovered here 100 years ago. Today, the Monarch is one of Australia's most common species. To some Australians it is known as the Wanderer. The caterpillars have yellow, black and white bands, and feed on milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), which also makes an attractive garden subject. However, it is a weed, so you'll need to trim flowers before it seeds.
These striking rainforest butterflies are most attracted to gardens which have nectar-rich flowers. They're drawn to the colour blue, especially the male of the species, which may fly in for a closer look if you're wearing blue clothing. The female prefers to lay its eggs on native rainforest trees such as Melicope elleryana but may also lay them on citrus trees. The caterpillar is green with a pair of white spines on its tail.
With their distinctive striped bodies, these butterflies will add visual impact to any garden, especially when seen flying in large groups. The caterpillar's favourite food plant is corky silk pod (Secamone elliptica), but in the north they will also eat Heterostemma acuminatum. The mature caterpillar is greenish grey to white in colour and also sports an orange-brown stripe.