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Gloucester resident creates butterfly sanctuary in backyard

Vanessa West of Hayes began building her backyard butterfly garden five years ago. Her friend, Kaleela Thompson, encouraged her to build the garden to be a sanctuary for butterflies and to help preserve the monarch butterfly.

West has planted pink, yellow and white milkweed for monarch butterflies, parsley for black swallowtails and pawpaw trees for her favorite butterfly, the zebra swallowtail. She grows these specific plants in her garden because they are the respective butterflies’ host plants. A butterfly’s host plant is the only plant where it will lay its eggs.

The beginning of West’s garden.A monarch butterfly has landed in West’s garden.The pawpaw tree is the host plant for the zebra swallowtail, West’s favorite butterfly. West has 20 pawpaw trees in her garden.One of West’s trinkets features an image of Mickey Mouse and reads “Welcome to my little garden.”A music box disguised as a watering can rests in the butterfly garden.

The plants in her garden are designed to a...

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