what do i need and how do i start one?
first you need a butterfly, then you need a garden....plant the butterfly in the garden, water generously then wait till spring!!!!
I'm trying to get the monarchs to come back to my area. To do this they need milk weed plants to lay eggs and feed caterpillers. Other flowering plants provide nectar for the butterflies. Remember that insecticides kill the caterpillers and butterflies. No insecticides. No BT
Those are good suggestions, but remember if you want butterflies, you must have caterpillars and supply food plants for them. There are two books I would recommend, one is a tiny pocket sized book called Painted Ladies. The other is a thick paperback, Caterpillars of North America, and is the only comprehensive book of caterpillars so far printed that identifies them and what butterflies they turn into, as well as food sources. There is also a Peterson guide to caterpillars. Most of the butterfly guides, while good for identifying butterflies, do not list most of the caterpillars. Please learn your caterpillars so that you do not inadvertently kill them. Some food plants for them are the carrot family, dill, fennel and parsley, for black and yellow swallowtail caterpillars; milkweed for Monarchs; and one huge beautiful Fritillary needs violets for egglaying and food for the caterpillars, tho the butterfly itself feeds on milkweed and other flowers. There is also a Pipevine Swallowtail that only feeds on Dutchman's pipe vine. Some caterpillars overwinter as larva in leaf detrius, so it is a good idea to not clean up everything in the fall, but leave the habitat for them. There are also lots of plants that moths like, and there are some beautiful moths, such as the luna moth (in the Lunesta commercial) as well as butterflies. Also, you must never use insecticides on your plants, as it is non selective, and kills the butterflies and caterpillars as well as the garden pests.
According to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, butterfly gardens need the following 5 elements: -a sunny, preferably wind protected area - nectar rich flowers for butterflies - food for caterpillars - wet sand or puddle - avoiding use of pesticides. Some butterfly-loving colorful annual flowers are: cosmos, zinnias, sunflowers, marigold, snapdragon and petunia. Some perennials to consider are: aster, daylily, lavender and yarrow. Your local State Cooperative Extension Agent from the Agriculture School of your state's university will have a webpage with helpful instruction sheets about this and other gardening topics. In your local library, the Dewey Decimal number for gardening books will be approximately 638.5789 for butterfly gardens.Call the Reference Department of your local library to ask for best books and websites on this and any other topic.