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DIY: Delightful Butterfly Gardens!

Nathan Yuen


Credit noe tanigawa
Darlene Loo-McDowell, a butterfly rancher and member of the Hawai‘i Butterfly Society.


Credit noe tanigawa
William Haines, specializes in butterflies and moths in the UH Entomology Department.


Credit noe tanigawa
The white flowers are Penta, the other colorful flowers are Kalanchoe, all suitable nectar plants for a butterfly garden.


Credit noe tanigawa
A small "tent" made of netting serves as the butterfly nursery. Note the crownflower leaves inside--they are the favorite host plant of the Monarch butterfly.



   When was the last time you saw a butterfly?  Seventeen butterfly species make their home in Hawai‘i, and though they are often seen, the overall population of butterflies is drastically lower than fifty years ago.  HPR’sNoeTanigawa found there are efforts underway to lure even the rarer Kamehameha butterfly into home gardens.

Generally, nectar plants like penta, salvia, and kalanchoe attract butterflies, then, each species has a particular host plant on which it will deposit eggs.  For the Monarch butterfly, milkweed, or commonly, crown flower, is a favorite breeding site.  Loo-McDowell cautions that a couple of trees would be desirable since those caterpillars eat a lot!  Mamaki is the most easily cultivated host plant for the Kamehameha butterfly, and is available in garden supply stores.  Find out more about the Kamehameha Butterfly Project.

The caterpillar "nurseries" can be made any number of ways, but Loo-McDowell uses commercially made net "tents". 

The Butterfly Society of Hawai‘ihas lots of great information including about how to make your own Butterfly Garden.

The live “Butterflies” conservatory is on view at Pearlridge downtown through April 4th.  

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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