Attracting Butterflies


Attracting Butterflies


Butterflies are not only beautiful; they are responsible for the continued existence of many plants we see today. Since many natural butterfly habitats have been destroyed, it is important that gardeners step up to create new habitats for the butterflies that are native to their areas. Plus, a butterfly garden is beautiful, dynamic, and a lot of fun for kids and adults alike.

Butterfly gardens need several elements to attract and keep butterflies. First, the garden must have plants for the caterpillars to feed on (host plants). These plants are also where the adult butterflies lay their eggs. Second, the garden must have plants on which the butterfly adults can feed (nectar plants). Third, the garden needs direct sunlight throughout the day and protection from wind. Butterflies need sunlight to warm their wings in order to be able to fly, so they will not thrive in a shady garden. Wind makes it difficult for butterflies to fly or even to hold still, so a well-protected garden will attract more butterflies. Fourth, the garden should have a couple extra items to help the butterflies feel at home: medium-sized stones for the butterflies to heat up on while they are not feeding, and moist, sandy soil in which the butterflies can puddle. Puddling is when butterflies (mostly the males) suck moisture and nutrients out of sand. By including all five of these elements in your butterfly garden, you stand the best chance of attracting butterflies and keeping them coming back year after year.

TIP: Create a butterfly puddling area in your garden. Fill a shallow container (such as an old baking pan) with sand and sink it to ground level in your garden near your butterfly-attracting plants. Add enough water to get the sand wet. Water the sand whenever you water your plants to keep butterflies coming back.



When starting a butterfly garden, remember to use native plants for the best results. Different butterfly species feed off different types of plants, and naturally, native plants are the best for attracting native butterflies. An easy way to provide the right types of flowers in your garden is to use a butterfly flower mix. Be aware that many mixes will provide the flowers adult butterflies need to feed, but will not supply the plants the eggs and caterpillars need. To give your butterflies a permanent home in your yard, you’ll need both.

Below is a list of common butterflies and the types of plants they need for caterpillar feeding, egg laying, and butterfly feeding. Do some research to identify which butterflies are found in your region, and then make sure you have plants from both the food/host and the nectar categories below.

  Butterfly
Caterpillar Food/Host Plants

Nectar Plants
Black Swallowtail Dill, parsley, fennel, carrot Bloodflower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Common Milkweed, Joe-Pye Weed, Late-flowering Boneset, Oregano, Privet, Purple Coneflower, Wild Bergamot, Zinnia
Cabbage White Many plants in mustard family, cabbage family, broccoli Arugula, Bloodflower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed, Collards, Catnip, Common Dandelion, Creeping Wood Sorrel, Common Sage, Daisy Fleabane, Dame's Rocket, Day Lily, Dogbane, Globe Amaranth, Ground Ivy, Heath Aster, Lantana, Late-flowering Boneset, Lavender, Liatris, Marigold, Mint, Mist Flower, Mustard Greens, New England Aster, Oregano, Radishes, Red Clover, Salvia "Blue Bedder", Sedum (Autumn Joy), Small White Aster, Sweet Pepperbush, Thyme, Tickseed Sunflower, Tithonia, Valerian, White Clover, Winter Cress, Zinnia
  Checkered Skipper Mallow, hollyhock Globe Amaranth, Heath Aster, Mist Flower, New England Aster, Showy Coneflower
  Clouded Sulfur Alfalfa, clover Brazilian Verbena, Common Dandelion, Ground Ivy, Heath Aster, Marigold, Mist Flower, New England Aster, Privet, Purple Coneflower, Showy Coneflower, Tithonia
  Cloudless Sulfur Ornamental cassia, canary bird bush Zinnia, Butterfly Bush, Cosmos, Cushion Mum
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Sycamore, willow Blue Cardinal Flower, Bloodflower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Butterfly, Weed, Garlic Chives, Common Milkweed, Daisy Fleabane, Dames Rocket, Dogbane, Globe
  Gorgone Checkerspot Sunflowers Sunflower, Goldenrod
Monarch Milkweed Blue Cardinal Flower, Bloodflower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed, Common Milkweed, Globe Amaranth, Heath Aster, Heliotrope, Joe-Pye Weed, Lantana, Late-flowering Boneset, Marigold, Mist Flower, Mustard Greens, New England Aster, New York Ironweed, Oriental Lilies, Showy Coneflower, Smooth Aster, Swamp Milkweed, Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower), Wingstem, Zinnia
Mourning Cloak Willow, aspen, cottonwood, elm Butterfly Bush, Milkweed, Shasta Daisy, Dogbane
  Orange Sulfur Alfalfa, vetch, pea Black-Eyed Susan, Bloodflower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed, Common Dandelion, Cosmos, Dame's Rocket, Globe Amaranth, Ground Ivy, Heath Aster, Joe-Pye Weed, Late-flowering Boneset, Marigold, New England Aster, New York Ironweed, Oregano, Purple Coneflower, Red Clover, Salvia "Blue Bedder," Showy Coneflower, Smooth Aster, Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower), White Clover, Zinnia
  Painted Lady Thistle, hollyhock, sunflower Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Common Milkweed, Cosmos, Heliotrope, Late-flowering Boneset, Marigold, New England Aster, Purple Coneflower, Zinnia
  Question Mark Nettle, elm, hackberry, hops, false nettle Butterfly Bush, Heliotrope
Red Admiral Nettle, false nettle, pellitory Stonecrop, Clover, Aster, Dandelion, Goldenrod, Mallow
Red-Spotted Purple Wild cherry, oak, poplar, hawthorn, willow Privet, Poplar
Silver-spotted Skipper Wild licorice, locust Abelia, Black-Eyed Susan, Blue Berry Bush, Blue Cardinal Flower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Catnip, Dame's Rocket , Garlic Chives, Common Milkweed, Common Sage, Dogbane, Globe Amaranth, Heliotrope, Joe-Pye Weed, Lantana, Lavender, Mint, Mist Flower, Mountain Laurel, New York Ironweed, Oregano, Oriental Lilies, Phlox, Privet, Radishes, Red Clover, Salvia "Blue Bedder," Showy Coneflower, Smooth Aster, Swamp Milkweed, Verbena, Sweet Pepperbush, Late-flowering Boneset, White Clover, Wild Bergamot and Zinnia.
Spicebush Swallowtail Spice bush, sassafrass Dogbane, Joe Pye Weed, Buddleia
Variegated Fritillary Pansy Black-Eyed Susan, Bloodflower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Globe Amaranth, Marigold, Mist Flower, New England Aster, Oregano, Red Clover, Zinnia
Viceroy Butterfly Willow, poplar, apple Thistle, Beggar-tick, Goldenrod, Milkweed
  Zebra Swallowtail Pawpaw Dogbane, Joe Pye Weed, Buddleia, Privet, Blueberry

Part of this article was used, with permission, from TheButterflySite.com  

 


 

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