Butterflies, Butterflies Everywhere - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Butterflies, Butterflies Everywhere

August 6, 2003

Albany - Georgia's butterfly population is booming thanks to recent rain. After a four year drought, a record number of butterfly species are flourishing.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the Georgia State butterfly, soaks up sun in Becky Johnson's garden. "There's nothing more relaxing than watching the gentle butterflies going from plant to plant feeding," said Johnson.

Johnson and her friends at the Garden Club of Albany are seeing more butterflies this year. "I saw butterflies very early this year," said club member Virginia Patton. Patton is a garden and butterfly enthusiast. "They just look like beautiful flowers flying through the air," she said.

More butterflies are filling the air this summer. Biologists with the Department of Natural Resources say it's been a record setting year in terms of species seen and numbers of butterflies counted. Rain spurred the growth of both host plants, where butterflies can lay their eggs, and nectar plants that produce food for the colorful arthropods.

"You must plant certain flowers to keep butterflies in your yard. If not, they'll come for awhile and leave," said Johnson. And, Becky and Virginia are making sure butterflies decorate their gardens by growing plants that lure them.

"If there was ever a match made in heaven it was the butterfly and the butterfly bush," said Patton. "The lantanna are perennials and butterflies just love them too," echoed Johnson.

Butterflies also love rebbecia, pintas, and black-eyed Susans. "They must have plenty of nectar for strength to fly," said Patton. And, butterflies are more than just aesthetically pleasing in a garden. "Butterflies are pollinators, so they are great for our gardens and our environment."

Georgia is home to more than 160 species of butterflies. 42 were seen in a recent count by the DNR in Cordele.

Posted at 5:00PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com