Plant kani konna, hibiscus, arali or balsam in your garden and create a colourful flutter, suggests K. Jeshi.
If you want butterflies fluttering in your garden, grow the ornamental Aristolachia with its spectacular flowers. Or bright red hibiscus, mauve balsams, and pink aralis — they are favourites with them.
“To have butterflies such as the common birdwing, crimson rose, common rose, and common windmill butterflies for company, just grow Artisolachia bush near your compound wall,” says birder A. Sukumar. “The butterflies will come even if there are ficus, gulmohar or kani konna trees around,” he says.
Recalling a project her students did, teacher R. Selvi of Kadri Mills School says: “They spotted butterfly eggs on the leaves of nandyarvattam (crape jasmine) plant. That is how they learnt that this was the nourishment for the butterfly larva that emerged as daphni neeri moth. We also spotted eggs on the weed aaduthoda or aadu theenda paalai which turned out to be the host plant for the common rose butterfly. Some butterflies also devour arali leaves.”
While common coster (orange with stripes) can be often spotted on aamanakku weed, the danaid eggfly butterflies look for nectar on hibiscus flowers.
Conservationist Mohammed Saleem says while butterflies look for nectar on any flowering plant, their host plants where they lay their eggs are very specific. They choose the plant based on the food requirement of the larva.
“Milk weed, lantana, and aamanakku plants in your neighbourhood will also attract butterflies,” he says. Sukumar says one also has to grow trees that are host to ants, tree hoppers and neery bugs as some caterpillars depend on these for food.