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Creating a Butterfly Habitat in the home garden-

NECTAR PLANTS- Butterflies smell with their antennae and taste with their feet. Choose heirloom and native plants in shades of purple and yellow, then white, blue, and red. That is the order of their favored colors. Flowers with large flat heads, or those with numerous, short tubes are very attractive to butterflies. Plant in masses of color. Coneflowers, Phlox, Joe Pye Weed, Black-Eyed-Susans, and Butterfly Bush are nice perennial choices.

WATER FEATURE-  Most butterflies drink early in the morning after the sun warms their wings. Adding pebbles to a shallow dish at ground level makes the perfect "butterfly bath." It can be made of almost any material. A concrete birdbath without the pedestal works well. A rock with natural depressions looks wonderful in the rock garden. Adding extra rocks or paving stones to a garden with a southern exposure allow the butterflies to bask in the sun. The water feature can be filled with fresh water, or left dry to catch the morning dew. Adding moist soil to a water feature invites the Swallowtail and other butterflies to mud-puddle. They receive nutrients from moist soil, carrion, or manure.

SHELTER- Shelters are needed to protect a chrysalis or hibernating butterfly. They slow down gusts of wind and protect from heavy rain. Butterflies also use them to roost overnight and on chilly days. Some are man-made, like fences or a wooden jungle gym. Other shelters occur naturally as fallen trees or dense evergreens and shrubs. They should be waterproof and provide ample shade. A good shelter can be constructed like a wood pile shaped in a grid. A tarp should be placed over the top, and viewing holes can be cut to watch roosting butterflies.

HOST PLANTS- These are the plants that the butterflies choose to raise their young on. Planting these throughout the garden bed with nectar plants will help hide the nibbled foliage. These attract an enormous amount of butterflies. The butterflies will stay longer during the day, and longer into the fall season. Pesticides should never be used, as these will kill caterpillars, as well as the butterflies. Many vegetables and herbs are host plants. Plants used strictly for culinary use should be planted away from the butterfly garden and covered with mesh crop covers. Caterpillars can be raised in the home with an indoor pavilion or nursery.

 Butterfly Species

Favored Nectar Plant

 Favored Host Plant

Pipe Vine Swallowtail*  (Battus philenor)

butterfly bush, lilac, azalea, petunia

pipe vine, Dutchman's Pipe

Black Swallowtail*(Papilio poluxenes)

butterfly weed, phlox, clover, thistle

various carrot family members: carrot, celery, dill, fennel, parsley

Tiger Swallowtail* (Papilio glaucus)

butterfly bush, lilac, honeysuckle, butterfly weed wild cherry, willow, cottonwood, tulip poplar, magnolia

Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

aster, butterfly weed, centaury

various mustard family members: mustard, turnip, cabbage

European Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris rapae) lantana, impatiens, mint, dandelion various mustard members; cultivated vegetables: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radish; and nasturtium 
Clouded Sulfur (Colias philodice) aster, goldenrod, phlox, clover members of the pea family, especially clover, lupine , baptista
Small (American) Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) butterfly weed, goldenrod, yarrow, buttercup
sheep sorrel, curled dock 
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) goldenrod, milkweed, clover, winter cress many plants, including hibiscus, clover, mallow, beans, vetch, hollyhock

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) rockcress, buckeye, violet, winter cress, dandelion various trees & shrubs: dogwood, viburnum, blueberry
Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) butterfly weed, clover, shepherd’s-needle, milkweed many plants, including violets, passion vine, stonecrop
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) gloriosa daisy, thistle, verbena, butterfly weed
various species of violet

Pearl Crescent (Phycoides tharos) composites like thistle, aster, gloriosa daisy  
various species of aster

American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) marigold, goldenrod, aster, butterfly bush
various types of everlasting, daisy

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui  aster, cosmos, thistle, buttonbush   variety of plants like thistle, mallow, hollyhock 

Buckeye (Junonia coenia  aster, coreopsis, knapweed, chicory
plantain, snapdragon, toadflax

 Monarch (Danaus plexippus)  milkweed, lantana, lilac, cosmos, goldenrod, zinnia  
milkweed and milkweed family
 Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) zinnia, honeysuckle, butterfly weed, joe-pyeweed  various species of locust
Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus communis) aster, fleabane, knapweed, shepherd’s-needle various members of the mallow family and hollyhock

 Eastern Comma    
elm, hops, nettle

 Giant Swallowtail*    citrus, prickly ash, rue, gas plant, hop tree

 Mourning Cloak     
aspen, elm, willow

Question Mark*   
elm, hops, nettle

Red Admiral*  
nettle, hops

Red-Spotted Purple**  
willow, cherry, poplar, aspen, hawthorn

willow, aspen, cherry, plum

* - adult butterflies like mud puddles     * - adult butterflies like fruit





Butterfly Nectar Recipe

9 parts water/1 part sugar

1. Bring water to a boil.
2. Add sugar.
3. Mix until dissolved
4. Cool before using.

Refrigerate unused solution.
Keeps for up to 2 weeks.

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