Butterfly Host Plants are important when you create your butterfly garden to provide a site for the butterfly to lay eggs and also a food source for the emerging caterpillar. Be prepared for heavy munching on your host plants!
Because tiny caterpillars cannot travel far to find their own food, the female butterfly locates and lays her eggs on only the type of plant that the caterpillar can use as food. Most species of caterpillars are particular about the type of plants they can eat. If the egg was not placed on the correct plant, the caterpillar hatching from that egg will not survive. Many gardeners do not like to see plants in their gardens that have been chewed on by bugs. To avoid this, you may want to locate your butterfly host plants in areas that are not highly visible, but still a short distance from the butterfly nectar plants. If you do not provide host plants, you will have fewer butterflies.
Many native trees and other plants found in and around our yards are host plants for caterpillars. There are a variety of plants that can be included in a butterfly garden that are excellent host plants. The Native Plants Database is a great resource for folks interested in selecting native plants for their yard.
|Here’s a list of common butterflies and their preferred host plants:
|Caterpillar Food / Host Plant
|Alfalfa, clovers, deerweed
|Sweet Fennel, Lomatium, Citrus
|Dill, parsley, fennel, carrot
|plantains, gerardias, toadflax, snapdragons, false loosestrifes
|Many plants in mustard family, cabbage family
|Ornamental Cassia, Canary Bird Bush
|mallow family , hollyhock , rose and marsh mallows
|Common Snout Butterfly
|lead plant, false indigo, prairie clover
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
|Broccoli, cabbage (mustard family)
|Wild licorice, alfalfa, etc.
|Willow, aspen, cottonwood, elm
|Alfalfa, vetch, pea
|Thistle, hollyhock, sunflower
|Redberry, California Coffeeberry, California Lilac, Holly-leafed Cherry
|nettle, elm, hackberry, hops, false nettles
|nettle, false nettle, pellitory
|Wild cherry, oak, poplar, hawthorn, willow
|Wild licorice, locust, etc.
|spice bush, sassafrass
|Green ash, chokecherry
|Various, including pansy
|willow, poplar, apple
|Willow, aspen, cottonwood
|Western tiger swallowtail
|Willow, cottonwood, chokecherry
Having discovered a fondness for insects while pursuing her degree in Biology, Randi Jones was quite bugged to know that people usually dismissed these little creatures as “creepy-crawlies”.