Two medium-sized butterflies rest on a rough-looking thistle. Their abdomens are attached at the rear, they are mating.
These Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) are on a "date." They rely heavily on native passion vines for both food and egg laying. Photo: Richard Covey

One way to attract birds is with birdfeeders, which also requires the constant upkeep of buying birdseed and seasonal cleaning. However, not all birds eat seeds, so if you want to attract these birds to your area, you're going to have to entice them by offering them the resources they want. Many birds are insectivorous, which means they eat primarily invertebrates, such as wrens, warblers, cuckoos, vireos, and those elusive Wood Thrushes with their magical calls. The only way you're going to get them to frequent your area is by creating a bug buffet.

And it's okay if you don't like bugs- Fortunately most pollinators are harmless, such as beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, and non-stinging wasps. They're too busy at work to annoy you and keep to themselves. If you plant native flowering plants in your yard, you'll start to see insects you never even knew existed, and some of them are gorgeous. And then once you have the goods, the birds will learn that your home is a great place to stop for a snack.

By using native plants in your yard, you're restoring lost habitat that a lot of native insects (and their predators) need to survive. Many native butterflies such as the Eastern Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, and Monarch Butterfly need specific plants to act as hosts, and watching Monarch Butterflies start as eggs and flourish in your yard is a lot of fun.

A fly that's about an inch long sits on the handrail, it does its best to look like a dangerous hornet, but this one is in fact harmless.
This Yellowjacket Hover Fly (Milesia virginiensis) does everything it can to look and sound like a wasp. It's completely harmless, and a great pollinator. Photo: Richard Covey
Buttonbush, a ball of flowers with little stamens sticking out in every direction, is being used by a shiny cuckoo wasp.
A cuckoo wasp, a beetle, and carpenter ants are taking advantage of the resources this Button Bush is providing. Photo: Richard Covey
On the large rounded cone center of a sunflower are two caterpillars seeking nectar.
The caterpillars on this False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) are perfect for being plucked. Photo: Richard Covey
A large but harmless wasp rests on top of a sunflower.
This large Scoliid Wasp (Pygodasis quadrimaculata) looks monstrous but they're actually wonderful garden helpers that will clear your yard of Japanese and June Beetles. Photo: Richard Covey
A long thin wasp navigates leaves in search of nectar.
This delicate looking myzinum wasp will also guard your garden against pests, especially beetle grubs. Photo: Richard Covey
This small moth is sleek and fuzzy.
This Eight-spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata) relies solely on the lovely Virginia Creeper as its host plant. Photo: Richard Covey

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