Every child (and many an adult) loves butterflies, and wants to have them in the garden. Fortunately, it is very easy to please butterflies, and attract them to your yard. Additionally, some species, which pollinate plants, are endangered, and you will be helping to preserve these butterflies which are in danger of disappearing.
As fragile as butterflies are, they occur in practically every area of the world, even though with few exceptions, they rarely live longer than twenty days, and often only about ten days. But for those few days each year, they provide us with colour and beauty!
To attract butterflies to your yard, first you will need to adopt organic methods of maintaining your lawn. Butterflies are insects, and so insecticides will kill them off just as surely as it kills off unwanted insects. Then you will need water and minerals, places for them to feed, lay eggs, and a source of food for their young (caterpillars). Most gardeners dread caterpillars because of the vast amounts of plants they consume, but by planting specialized plants solely as a source of food for caterpillars, you will be able to attract the species of butterflies that will consume those plants, and leave your priceless beauties alone!
In order to attract butterflies whose caterpillars will feed off of less desirable plants than your prized vegetables, try planting milkweed, asters, black cherry, hollyhocks, lupines, parsley, snapdragon, and violets. To feed butterflies, plant herbs with short, tubular flowers in red, yellow, orange, pink or purple, such as bee balm, echinacea, lavender, thyme, marigold, violets, and mint in sunny areas. You can also plant flowers such as asters or zinnias. Then provide a source of water and salts (minerals). Butterflies often congregate around puddles of urine, but you probably want a more elegant solution, such as adding minerals to a shallow puddle. By placing a rock with a shallow depression on the top in your garden, and keeping that depression filled with water (particularly rainwater if you catch it), and keeping the soil around the rock damp, you will find your yard will be filled with butterflies.
And finally, consider providing a butterfly hibernation box, low to the ground and in a sunny area. Add strips of bark or twigs on the vertical sides inside to give the butterflies some good footing, and place it near the plants butterflies will be attracted to. Voilà! Your back yard will be filled with butterflies!