Past Meetup

Attract more butterflies to spend time in your garden

This Meetup is past

27 people went

Location visible to members


One of the area's foremost experts on butterflies, Nick Bodven, will be giving our members and visitors a presentation in his own garden. We'll see the plants that attract these beautiful "flying flowers" to his property, and will attract them to yours as well. Nick will explain how he breeds hundreds of zebra heliconian longwing butterflies in his screened flyhouse, and them releases them into the wild. In the flyhouse we can see the four stages of a butterfly's life, from egg to caterpillar to pupa to adult. This photo shows his wife Aline feeding a dozen fluttering zebras.

Indoors, the presentation will include slide and film showings of various species' life cycles. Nick will demonstrate how local butterfly gardeners "tag" monarchs to track their migrations and parasites. Gardeners interested in joining the active group of 60 volunteers tagging monarchs can get tags and sampling kits from Nick if they call him at (239) 694-2108 in advance of this meeting. Club leader Peter Kacalanos will display the very effective butterfly nets he created.

In the Bodvens' garden we'll see the different techniques used by gardeners who want to attract butterflies. Instead of cutting off flowers before they produce seeds, we let seeds drop and germinate naturally to create more plants on which caterpillars and butterflies can feed. We permit many plants considered weeds to grow as well, because many local Florida butterflies use the flowers for nectar and caterpillars use the leaves for food. Some plants that die are allowed to remain where they fall, to provide a thick undergrowth to protect butterflies in cold weather.

Any extra volunteer plants can be taken home by those attending this meeting. As usual, members will bring and place on the plant-exchange table their own excess plants, and take home whichever other plants they'd like for their own gardens. New members will be given membership cards with their names imprinted on them, which can be used to get the 10% and 20% discounts offered by the garden centers and other organizations that support our group.

Until then, you can get more information about butterflies by visiting Nick's blog at, and the web site of the North American Butterfly Association at, and the web site of the local Longwing chapter of NABA at (For photos of the butterflies breeding in the screened enclosure of club leaders Peter and Suzanne, visit the Photos section of the club's web site at

Gardeners interested in attracting butterflies should mark Sunday, February 3 on their calendars as a reminder to attend this informative meeting. These events are always free, so you can invite interested gardeners to come along. To let the Bodvens know if you can or can't attend this meeting, please click either Yes or No on the RSVP section of our club's web site, and indicate the number of visitors you're inviting. We're looking forward to another successful meeting then.