Book Review: Gardening for Butterflies

Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects

Xerces Society
Timber Press: Portland OR, 2016
287 pages

Reviewed by Carol Boshart
Member, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

Book Cover Gardening for ButterfliesWritten by the Xerces Society which is dedicated to invertebrate protection, this book is designed for both novice and veteran home gardeners, as well as for larger-scale land managers and developers whose goal is to facilitate and enrich diversified ecosystems to attract and protect butterflies and moths as well other insects and interdependent wildlife populations. The authors express significant concern about the precipitous decline in the Lepidoptera order, and seek to “provide a blueprint for…change” in recruiting gardeners for help in reversing this alarming trend.

Included in the book is an overall view of butterfly characteristics by families, with outstanding detailed photographs depicting their strikingly-colorful wing patterns, body designs, and egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis formations. An added bonus in this book is that there is also a chapter devoted to notable moth families with accompanying informative photographs and commentary.

The authors document the exponentially decreasing habitat for host plants and nectar sources to sustain the butterfly and moth life cycle. They then offer comprehensive descriptions with accompanying photographs of the best regional wild flowers, grasses and sedges, shrubs, and trees for providing shelter and larval hosts for specific butterflies. Also assessed is nectar value for each plant. Native ranges, garden design, soil preparation, seeding, planting, and care instructions are provided.

Hints are given for the best search techniques for finding and observing butterflies and moths, and for developing ways to raise and release them to educate others and to promote the conservation of these beautiful and useful pollinators.

An extensive resource guide is provided for promoting citizen science programs available for lay involvement. Participants help collect data for such activities as monitoring regional inventories of butterfly and larval populations. This book provides a wealth of information in itself, but concludes with lists for additional resources and suggested readings.

[Editor’s Note:  If you enjoy reading and would like to review a book related to our Wild Ones mission, contact Dawn, she has a stack of books waiting.]

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Gardening for Butterflies

  1. The moth information in this book was very good and quite interesting. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t provide some of the same info for butterflies. It was more about concept than providing actual butterfly or flower information.

  2. Carol, you are a good writer! Thanks for volunteering to do this. I need to look at this book.

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