Written by Jennifer Coolie
Supporting the population of our beautiful monarch butterflies goes beyond planting colorful, nectar rich plants. “It’s easy enough to plant species that butterflies like to feed on, but you need to do more than that to support your local populations,” says Butterfly Conservation’s Richard Fox. Monarch butterflies are absolutely wonderful creatures, and need to be well looked after due to their dwindling population. Help make your garden more butterfly friendly by creating water sources for the butterflies to “puddle” in. "
Butterflies can be found sipping moisture from puddles or wet soil after a rain (known as "puddling"). Not only are they being hydrated but they also pick up salts in the process.
Water’s Role In Survival
Like humans, having a water source is essential to protect monarch butterflies. In the overwhelming heat of the summer, butterflies will gather extra minerals and vitamins through a behavior known as puddling. Through puddling, monarchs will take small drinks in shallow water areas rather than diving into a deeper water source. While it is important to create a butterfly garden rich with nectar plants and flowering shrubs, having a water source in the area is equally essential to promote butterfly survival. Creating a garden with water features that gives the butterflies an opportunity to puddle only helps make your garden space friendlier for future monarch butterfly populations.
The Shallower The Better
When choosing a water feature to help the endangered monarch population, look for multi-level fountains that have one of the levels with a shallow water line. Shallow water is more attractive than deep standing water for butterflies. If you prefer bird baths to fountains, this can still work because butterflies can puddle on the shallow edges of the birdbath. Alternatively, you can also create a butterfly oasis in the middle of a deeper water feature by simply adding in rocks, marbles or pebbles to make a perching paradise for the butterflies to puddle in.
Other Ways To Boost The Butterflies
If you’re looking to go above and beyond to make a perfect puddle paradise, add minerals to the water source. To supplement your butterfly water source with added minerals, sprinkle in some table salt or composting fruits (in small amounts to avoid polluting the water). Keeping the soil around your water feature damp can help the butterflies, says the Farmer’s Almanac. Finally, keep your butterfly water source in one consistent area so that your monarch friends can keep coming back.
It’s win-win: by placing a water feature in your butterfly garden, both you and the monarch butterfly population will benefit. You hear the tranquil sound of running water while your butterflies receive their essential minerals.