Butterfly Houses

Shelter for chilly butterflies

At the end of a hot day when the shadows fall and the air grows cool, we appreciate the ability to get out of the dark and into a comfortable house to sleep. Butterflies are the same - they're heat-loving insects and when the night comes they like to find a warm place to roost until the sun rises again. This also protects them from predators that might try to catch them at twilight, and provides a place for hibernation when the cold winter comes.

Butterfly houses can be simply functional or very decorative. They basically look like a bird house, except that they're smaller and have slits for doorways instead of holes. Many people suggest that painting flowers in purple and yellow on the house will attract more butterflies to use it, but this hasn't been proven. Nevertheless, decorative butterfly houses, which are painted with lovely flowers and colors, are a wonderful addition to your garden decor and provide a whimsical conversation piece for any human visitors to your garden.

So do butterfly houses actually work? They can, but it all depends on where you place them in the garden. If you put the house in the sunniest part of the yard, you won't see any butterflies come to it. They prefer a woodsy area with lots of shrubbery and trees. There is some discussion about how high to put a butterfly house, but the general feeling is that 4 or 5 feet off the ground will do the trick. As well, you're not going to see many butterflies around the house until the fall, when the air gets cold at night.

After all this, will you see butterflies coming to the house you've put up? Maybe, but it's like waiting for purple martins to come to a purple martin house - you may see them and you may not, but if you do, chances are you'll see them returning the next cold season.