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Have you noticed that butterflies like the neighbor's garden better than yours? If you're like me, not only have you noticed, but it's become a source of disappointment and jealousy.

I have never received a complaint from the Japanese beetles, aphids or earwigs, and I try to discourage them. Yet, for some reason, the flightly butterfly has turned its tiny antenna away from my backyard year after year. Oh, sometimes a lost soul floats through, but ultimately it sails off again on the next available breeze and is never seen again.

The need to discover my error was strong. So, last year I chased Painted Ladies through my neighbor's garden. I ran circles around Monarchs in the meadow where they danced from blossom to blossom until finally depositing eggs on the undersides of milkweed leaves. I stalked the beautiful Swallowtail unmercifully. Where it went, I went. Then I checked out the local library. After careful study, I have determined several things about this light-as-air creature.

One: It needs a constant source of water. The mud puddle in the driveway counts, by the way, you just have to make sure there's water in it. The birdbath is good, too. Since butterflies like to sit in the water and sip, pay close attention to water depth.

Two: Butterflies are insects, therefore are cold-blooded. They require a pesticide-free, wind-free environment where they can absorb the sun's warmth undisturbed. They tend to congregate in corners and along fences. They also like to sit on rocks, cement statues and warm sidewalks. Anything that retains the sun's heat will do.

Three: Butterflies prefer fragrant, colorful flowers that bloom a long time. Such plants include bee balm, dahlia, impatients, zinnia, snapdragon, yarrow, marigolds, mints, phlox, bougainvillea, coneflower, and geranium. Host plants, such as milkweed are essential to their young.

If all of these ingredients can be found in your garden, the elusive butterfly may take up permanent lodging. I say may because I now have all of these things, and am still awaiting the sound of tiny little caterpillar feet.