But butterflies are more than bright wing patterns and graceful fluttering around our flowers. While serving as essential pollinators of many plant species, they and their caterpillar alter egos provide a vital food source for birds, toads, snakes and countless other animals. Sadly, like too many of our wild neighbors, butterflies are under threat—from pesticides, habitat loss and disease.
Butterflies and moths are closely related members of the lepidoptera order of insects. While there are exceptions, most butterflies are brightly colored and only active during the day, while most moths come in muted colors and are active at night.
They may look delicate, but some butterflies, like North America’s iconic monarch, are hardy trekkers, traversing up to 3,000 miles during their fall and spring migrations.
No matter how big or small your outdoor space, you can create a haven for local wildlife. By providing basic needs like water, food and shelter, you can make a difference in your own backyard.