This morning when we headed out to the backyard we were astonished by dozens and dozens of orange and black butterflies flitting around the yard - lifting out of the grass, resting on the flowering cherry tree, dipping near the pond, sunning themselves on warm patio stones..all day these colourful visitors (which we identified as Red Admirals using this great Ontario moths and butterflies guide) stayed around passing through on their migration back north. On such a warm windy day it seemed fitting to have so many butterflies arriving, as if drifting in on the breeze and bringing warmer days with them.
We love spending time discovering the re-emerging insect life in the garden - our daughter spends hours turning over rocks and rotten logs to see what life will be discovered underneath - sow bugs, centipedes, spiders, ants, earth worms, slugs, snails - all are greeted with surprise and delight when she discovers them. Life in and around the soil is wonderful. Today she spent much of the morning with a ladybug which she eventually brought into our greenhouse to be sheltered from the wind (and help prevent aphids in the green house plants).
One of the garden goals for this spring is to work at attracting more benenficial insects to our yard. Beneficial insects help to keep pest problems under control and keep your garden thriving. Of course incorporating features like ponds, compost areas, and beneficial host plants, as well as using organic pesticide-free methods of gardening, are good ways to begin to attract beneficials. Think about food, shelter and water as aspects that insects need. Some herbs we use here include dill, fennel, angelica, queen anne's lace, coriander, dandelion, sunflowers, butterfly weed, tansy, etc to attract ladybugs, lacewings and other beneficial insects. We are also inspired to build a "bee hotel" like this after seeing a great model at a friend's yard, and this beautiful idea for a "bug mansion" really caught our attention too.