Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies
Butterflies found in Iowa are either in the process of migration or are completing one of the various stages of their life cycle. Approximately 60 species of butterflies
of various sizes and colors can be seen over the season each year at the Butterfly Garden located in Bellevue State Park. The garden is open to the public during park hours on a self-serve basis.
This butterfly garden has been designed specifically to attract butterflies by providing nectar plants for the adults and host plants for the caterpillars. It is also being used as a teaching tool for schools as well as a research project to gather data on Iowa's butterflies.
The garden is nestled in an area already rich in natural foodstuffs such as wild aster, ragweed, goldenrod, lambsquarters, daisy fleabane and milkweed. Other plant species grown in the park specifically to attract butterflies include ageratum, sweet basil, black-eyed susan, borage, chives, clover, cosmos, dames rocket, dandelion, dianthus, forget-me-nots, heliotrope, lilium, lupine, marigolds, ox-eye daisy, phlox, potentilla, giant scabiosa, spectable sedum, strawflower, verbena, wood sorrel, zinnia, coreopsis, gaillardia, coneflower, deptford pink, and rudbeckia hirta.
Surrounding the garden are cottonwoods, wild cherry, hackberry and willows. All of these plants serve as host plants for the butterflies. It is one of only a handful of such gardens in the United States.
Adjacent to the garden is a three-acre prairie site and wildlife food plots. Several species of shrubs such as ninebark, dogwood, and a variety of hardwoods and conifers have been added to the area to provide food and shelter for other wildlife as well.
Two miles of foot trails traverse the area to allow viewing of the various wildlife that abounds in the park. An area next to the garden has been established to allow close-up viewing of the butterflies. A picnic shelter is located near the garden area.