Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Viceroy © Al Cornell

© Al Cornell

June 2009

Creature Comforts

Where fliers tune in for a landing

Natasha Kassulke

If you plant parsley, fennel, carrots or dill, you may start seeing black swallowtails swooping in. Plant snapdragons, and you'll increase your chances of attracting the common buckeye. Once butterflies move into your yard, you can observe their behavior, take photos and even post your sightings online. Creating a butterfly garden is simple. You will need:

  • A sunny location – pick a spot that gets at least six hours of sun per day
  • Plants that are good sources of nectar
  • Food plants for caterpillars
  • Shelter and resting spots – large flat rocks that provide a warm basking spot
  • Moisture – a small moist area with a depression that collects water or you can keep watered
  • Puddles where they can take in dissolved minerals from shallow, still waters

Butterflies also are very nearsighted and are more attracted to large stands of a particular flower than to single blossoms. Avoid using insecticides and herbicides in or near your butterfly garden. Here are some suggested plants that butterflies prefer for larval foods and nectaring foods for adults:

Common buckeye
Larval food plant: snapdragon
Nectar: aster, milkweed, chicory, coreopsis
Larval food plant: nettle, elm
Nectar: rotting fruit and sap, butterfly bush, dandelion
Giant swallowtail
Larval food plant: citrus trees, prickly ash
Nectar: lantana, milkweed, lilac, goldenrod, azalea
Great spangled fritillary
Larval food plant: violet
Nectar: ironweed, milkweed, black-eyed susan, verbena
Larval food plant: milkweed
Nectar: milkweed, butterfly bush, goldenrod, thistle, ironweed, mints
Mourning cloak
Larval food plant: willow, elm, poplar, aspen, birch, hackberry
Nectar: rotting fruit and sap, butterfly bush, milkweed, shasta daisy
Red admiral
Larval food plant: nettle
Nectar: rotting fruit and sap, daisy, aster, goldenrod, butterfly bush, milkweed
Tiger swallowtail
Larval food plant: cherry, ash, birch, tulip tree, lilac
Nectar: butterfly bush, milkweed, phlox, lilac, ironweed
Larval food plant: willow, poplar, apple
Nectar: rotting fruit and sap, aster, goldenrod, milkweed

You can share your butterfly sightings at Wisconsin Buttlerflies. For more information about butterflies in Wisconsin visit Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association.

Pooches suffer from spring allergies

Do you think you are the only one with an itchy nose and watery eyes? For pets with allergies, spring is no picnic either. Atopy or canine atopic dermatitis is the second most common form of skin allergy in dogs after flea allergy dermatitis. It occurs when hypersensitive dogs come into contact with common allergens in the environment, resulting in skin inflammation and itching that usually recurs seasonally. Dogs with allergies may show the following symptoms:

  • chewing feet
  • rubbing their face on the carpet
  • scratching their body
  • recurrent ear infections
  • hair loss
  • sores from constant scratching and licking

Managing pet allergies can be difficult and may require lifelong therapy. Treatment depends on the animal's sensitivity and length of the allergy season. Avoiding the offending allergen is the most effective control but may be impractical or impossible. Other treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics or antifungals for skin infections, shampoos and immunotherapy (injecting small doses of an allergen extract so your pet's immune system becomes less reactive to the problem allergens).

Scaredy dog

Your dog Thor may think he's a god... © Steve Apps
Your dog Thor may think he's a god...
© Steve Apps

Your dog Thor might think he is a god, until the thunder roars. Then he cowers under the bed, trembling, drooling and hiding from an unseen danger. Thunderstorm phobia is a common behavioral problem for dogs. The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association cites several breeds that may be predisposed to a fear of storms. These include herding dogs such as collies and German shepherds, and hounds such as beagles and basset hounds. The study also suggests a fear of storms is common in sporting and working breeds. To help a dog that may be afraid of thunder, try the following:

  • Turn the radio or TV up loudly to help drown out the sound.
  • Provide a safe place and encourage your dog to go there in a storm. Do not use a closed crate, though, because a scared dog could hurt itself trying to escape.
  • Distract your dog by playing with it.
  • Desensitize your dog by playing a recorded sound of thunder. Start out soft and increase the volume slowly over time.
  • Reward your dog when it exhibits calm behavior.

You may need to talk to a veterinarian. A prescription sedative could be necessary in severe phobia cases.

Natasha Kassulke is associate editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.