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New Mexico has more species of butterflies than almost every other state in the United States; only Texas and Arizona have more (which they probably borrowed from us, anyway). You can find over 300 different species of butterfly here, particularly in the spring and summer months. Like bees, butterflies are essential pollinators. If you’d like to see more of these fascinating creatures, there are a few ways to attract New Mexico’s butterflies by making them feel at home in your garden.

1) Always Avoid Pesticides

Butterflies are not pests, yet they often suffer the same fate as the ants you might be trying to eradicate from your yard. Even the milder insecticides are dangerous to butterflies. Many people don’t realize that many insecticides are systemic. This means that the plants absorb them and the whole plant becomes toxic to a butterfly, including the nectar and pollen. Because pesticides are also frequently used in plant nurseries, you’ll need to find out whether or not the plants you purchase have been treated with any insecticides.

2) Choose the Right Flowers

Not all plants are the same in the eyes of New Mexico butterflies, though they do prefer a variety of choices. Butterflies are attracted to brightly colored blooms, specifically those that have a lot of nectar to feed on.

The more varied sources of nectar you plant in your garden, the more butterflies will be attracted. Some examples of colorful and attractive flowering nectar plants that do well in New Mexico include the following:

  • Tropical Milkweed
  • Passion Vine
  • Hollyhock
  • Marigold
  • Purple Trailing Lantana
  • Bee Balm
  • Jupiter’s Beard

Keep in mind that you also want to provide plants to feed the caterpillars who will someday take flight as lovely New Mexico butterflies.  Many of the flowering nectar plants above, like tropical milkweed, are also great host plants for feeding caterpillars. Other plants that you can add to your garden include anise, parsley, and dill.

3) Decorate Your Garden

While it’s important to choose a variety of colorful nectar flowers and host plants for your garden to attract butterflies, you can also attract them with colorful decor, butterfly homes and nectar feeders, and puddling pools. You’ll also want to include fixtures, ornaments, or stones that are set up in areas where butterflies can rest and soak up the warmth of the beautiful New Mexico sun.

Follow these tips, and to ensure that butterflies continue to thrive and prosper in the land of enchantment.

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