Butterfly lovers have noticed an alarming trend–butterfly numbers are down over 50 percent this year.

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) has sponsored butterfly counts since 1992, and has noted significant drops in butterfly populations this year.

Pat Sutton is a founding member of NABA and has participated in these counts since their inception. To meet Pat is to discover her joy and passion in sharing her knowledge of butterflys and creating gardens to attract them. She was interviewed in the Press of Atlantic City about the decline in butterfly numbers this year, and she feels that the weather may have played an important role in the lack of butterflies. This spring and early summer were remarkable for overly cool and rainy weather, which may have kept butterflies from flying and finding mates and appropriate host plants.

The decline in butterfly populations has been observed from Canada to South Carolina and west to Idaho and Nebraska, and has been remarked on by scientists and other observers. Although weather may indeed have played a role in the crashing butterfly populations, pesticide spraying and habitat destruction continue to play a significant role in decreasing butterfly numbers.

You have the power to help butterflies in your garden by:

  • Not using pesticides
  • Planting a wide variety of native nectar plants that bloom from spring through fall
  • Planting plenty of host plants. Each butterfly is dependent on a single species or family of plants as a host for their caterpillars. Check a field guide to find which butterflies are native to your area, and choose appropriate host plants for those species.
  • Enlisting your neighbors to help. An easy way to do this is to give them host plants when you divide your perennials in the fall.
  • Joining the North American Butterfly Association Butterfly Garden and Habitat Program