Category Archives: Flowers

The Plants Caterpillars Eat

Common Butterflies and the Plants Their Caterpillars Eat

imageSo you’ve worked hard to create a butterfly garden and it seems to be abuzz with lots of pollinators but there aren’t a lot of butterflies beyond 3 or 4 of the usual suspects. Did you do something wrong? Consider the life of a butterfly. They eat, mate and lay eggs. You’ve included lots of nectar plants in your garden but have you considered the host plants for their caterpillars? Host plants are not as common or as attractive as flowers/nectar plants. You may have to work a little harder to get more fly time by butterflies. Below is a list of common butterflies and the plants their caterpillars eat. Consider adding some of them as a second phase to your Butterfly Garden.

Acmon Blue – buckwheat, lupines, milkvetch
American Painted Lady – cudweed, everlast
Baird’s Swallowtail – dragon sagebrush
Black Swallowtailparsley, dill, fennel, common rue
Coral Hairstreak – wild black cherry, American and chickasaw plum, black chokeberry
Dun Skippersedges, grasses including purpletop
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – wild black cherry, ash, tulip tree, willow, sweetbay, basswood
Giant Swallowtail – prickly ash, citrus, common rue, hoptree, gas plant, torchwood
Gray Commagooseberry, azalea, elm
Great Purple Hairstreakmistletoe
Gulf Fritillary – maypops, other passion vines
Henry’s Elfin – redbud, dahoon and yaupon hollies, maple-leaved viburnum, blueberries
Monarchmilkweeds
Painted Lady (Cosmopolite)thistles, mallows, nievitas, yellow fiddleneck
Pygmy Blue – saltbush, lamb’s quarters, pigweed
Red Admiral/White Admiral – wild cherries, black oaks, aspens, yellow and black birch
Silver-Spotted Skipper – locusts, wisteria, other legumes
Spicebush Swallowtailsassafras, spicebush
Sulphursclover, peas, vetch, alfalfa, asters
Variegated Fritillarypassion flower, violets, maypop, stonecrop, purslane
Viceroy – willows, cottonwood, aspen
Western Tailed Blue – vetches, milkvetches
Western Tiger Swallowtail – willow, plum, alder, sycamore, hoptree, ash
Woodland Skippergrasses
Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw

Italics suggest plants that may be more “garden friendly” because of availability and size.

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Charles Long #3

Bee Balm

Photo: Charles Long

Skip garden mums, which have little to offer pollinators, and plant native perennials for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.