Butterflies, Butterfly Bushes and Praying Mantis

Part of the Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
October 21, 2007

Saturday, my wife, Mary, and I were doing some fall cleanup around the house. Our goal was to transplant some Bearded Iris from the front of the house to the side of the house. It was a beautiful fall day high 60s and just a little wind.

Many times I get emails from people asking if butterfly bushes really do attract butterflies? Well, let me tell you and show you that it is true. Butterfly bushes are very fragrant. Everytime I walk by the side yard during blooming time, I can smell the sweet fragrance of the long flowers. Butterflies like the aroma and sometimes during the late summer I will see 5 to 10 monarch butterflies and others hovering and landing on the flowers.

Even though I tell people butterflies frequent the bushes, I have never taken a photo of it occurring. But, yesterday, something triggered my desire to bring out the digital camera and do some point and shoot.

Click on butterfly to see larger photo.
Butteflies really do like butterfly bushes.
Photo of a butterfly on the flower of a butterfly bush.


Click on praying mantis to see larger photo.
A Photo of a praying mantis about 4 inches long.
The Praying Mantis is looking for food.

What motivated me to take action when nothing has in the past? As I was digging up dirt to place my bearded Iris in their new home I noticed a Praying Mantis along the foundation of my home. Since that is a rare event in my yard, I quickly took a photo before it was gone.

Two hours later it was still walking along the foundation wall looking for prey would be my guess. I don't know if it is a male or female. Based on some research I did on Wikipedia and What's that Bug they appear to dine on bugs. They are even capable of dining on birds, believe it or not.

It appears praying mantis are different from walking sticks. I am making my judgment that this is a praying mantis mostly from my next door neighbor, Dottie. She is from Wisconsin and has college experience in this field. Be sure and contact me if you think I am wrong.

Click on praying mantis to see larger photo.
A Photo of a praying mantis about 4 inches long.
A photo of Praying Mantis on a house foundation wall.

A little excitement around the house on a hard working Saturday afternoon. The butterfly bush is actually winding down for the winter. I have 2 butterfly bushes. One bush produces purple flowers and the other white flowers. All of the flowers on the purple plant are gone. The white bush still has a handful of flowers on it. The butterflies still see it as a choice dinner destination.

Each spring I cut the butterfly bushes back almost to the ground. The previous fall I had transplanted both bushes to a little bit different location same general area. Early in the spring, I thought that by transplanting them I had killed them both. Nothing was happening with them and the green that I did see I thought was nothing but weeds. Now. both bushes stand 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

We transplanted the Iris next to the butterfly bushes which should give us some green goodness and color in that area in the spring. As I learned yesterday. Transplanting Irises you want to make sure that you don't plant them deep. The root ball can actually be exposed on top of the soil. Most of the root structure is kept below the surface, but the top of the root will be okay.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of the butterfly and the butterfly bushes. The Praying Mantis was a real surprise for me and I was glad I was able to capture it on film. Have a great day.

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