There is something magical about watching butterflies as they float through your backyard garden. Although you may have flowers and other plants in your garden, many people will start one for the simple reason of seeing more butterflies throughout the year.
Unfortunately, there is a plant that is said to attract butterflies but having one in your garden can actually harm the environment and your enjoyment of your outdoor space.
Doug Tallamy, Ph.D., Professor, and chair of entomology at the University of Delaware, spoke with Good Housekeeping on the subject. Although most people plant a butterfly bush in their garden to see more butterflies, it can actually have the opposite effect.
He talked about how it can weaken the link to the ecosystem in your local area because it takes away food from birds and even other butterflies.
Tallamy talks about how the plant is named inaccurately because having one in your garden can actually keep butterflies away. The bush only produces nectar for butterflies. This sounds like it may be a dream come true for butterfly lovers but that isn’t the case.
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Since the plant produces only nectar for butterflies, the butterflies will struggle. Butterflies require a host plant to survive, such as oak trees, joe-pye weed, and milkweed. The larvae need the diversity of plants to continue in the area.
There are other reasons why you may want to look for other options rather than the butterfly bush. For example, these bushes tend to be invasive and crowd out other plants that can add to the natural ecosystem in the area. Originally, the bush was brought from Asia so when it is close to North American plants, it tends to get in the way.
According to Good Housekeeping, Tallmay says that many people are “in denial” when they move these plants around. He continues: “Butterfly bush just doesn’t stay where we plant it.” It may even end up in your neighbor’s yard!
The plant may also have a negative effect on the food web in your local environment. “If you plant butterfly bush, and non-native [species], then right away you’re removing at least 75% of the food that’s supporting the biodiversity out there.”
You might just want to look into other options, because the butterflies will come, even without a butterfly bush nearby.
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