Esmeralda by Children’s Place and Lake Lisgar Water Park

Bringing Back Bees & Butterflies

Story by Heather Rennalls

Currently enjoying a surge of entrance is the honey bee. Although the honey bee population in Canada is on the rise, they still endure hardships such as inadequate nutrition, parasites, weather, disease and pesticides. Not only are honey bees known for their sweet liquid gold, but they are crucial to the pollination of a host of plants, fruits, vegetables and crops, particularly canola which is their best source of nutrition. Planting native plants provides safe, healthy and overwintering habitat for honey bees to face challenges during the winter months. To assist in this, free seed kits of flowers that are nutritious to the honey bee can be obtained by visiting

In Woodstock, Ontario, the Woodstock Environment Advisory Committee (WEAC) is proposing to create a new two-acre butterfly garden and pollinator habitat for bees in Donald Thompson Park in Woodstock. According to the article entitled “City considering a butterfly garden” that appeared in the Oxford Review on Thursday May 11, 2017, converting a lawn area to plant species will allow “seasonal blooming throughout the growing season that the bees and the butterflies can survive in.”  (Page 52)

An advocate of making the garden butterfly friendly is Esmeralda Carvalho, a member of Stewardship Oxford who singlehandedly launched the Butterfly Habitat Rehabilitation Project. Now residing in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Esmeralda noted that there were no butterfly habitats in her area so she proposed and created the Butterfly Habitat Rehabilitation Project. With funds from the WWF, five small butterfly gardens were established in Tillsonburg: Annandale Public School, Glendale High School, Tillsonburg Water Park, Tillsonburg Cemetery and at the Tillsonburg Retirement Residence.

Monarch on Blue Mountain Mint on Garden by the Tillsonburg Water Park

Students from the both schools germinated the seeds to plant as they have green houses. Esmeralda reported that planting milkweed is important for that is the only native Ontario on which plant that Monarch butterflies lay their eggs. It is essential that native plants are available for every stage of the life cycle of butterfly from eggs, to caterpillar, to chrysalis then to the beautiful butterfly emerging from the chrysalis in its splendor.

Lifecycle of a butterfly

A rock garden with water and soil is needed for the butterflies to have landing pads. At her central Tillsonburg home, Esmeralda grows two kinds of milkweed, the common milkweed and the lovely butterfly milkweed. She reported that although milkweed grows naturally in our area, many people pull them out as weeds.

Common Milkweed & Butterfly Milkweed grown in Esmeralda Carvalho’s gardens

As part of the recently held Tillsonburg Turtlefest, Esmeralda handed out butterflies on a stick along with a brochure of the butterfly program and a packet of seeds for both the Common Milkweed (purple flower) and the Butterfly Milkweed (orange flower). According to Esmeralda, herbs such as dill, oregano, sage and thyme are also beneficial in attracting butterflies.

Butterfly Milkweed

Brochure – Make Your Garden Btterfly Friendly -for copies contact Stewardship Oxford








  There are many butterflies which you can spot in your garden. Here is a brief list:
  The Viceroy Butterfly is similar in colour & pattern to the Monarch but much smaller.
  Tiger Swallow Tail is the largest butterfly found in Canada.
  Buckeye Butterfly Mostly found in southern Ontario and southern Quebec.
  Red Admiral Butterfly is widespread in North America and is found from coast to coast in Canada.
  Question Mark Butterfly – Resides in eastern North America from northern Mexico to St. John’s Newfoundland.
  Morning Cloak – Found throughout North America, Britain & Europe.
Heather Rennalls, Historical Researcher, Freelance Writer, Photographer & Blogger, has been a researcher and writer since 2000. She has published numerous articles that have appeared in The Woodstock Sentinel Review, The Oxford Review, The Norwich Gazette newspapers and in the Tourism Oxford 2005-2006 Discovery Guide. She was a Guest Blogger for Tourism Oxford for the Blog “Black History Month – Remembering Oxford’s Past” posted January 30, 2014 and was a Freelance Writer & Photographer for Oxford Media Group from 2013 to 2014. In June 2014, Heather launched her website and blog Heather’s Historicals at: Heather was also a Volunteer Web Reporter for Reforest London in May 2015.