Feeding adult butterflies and their offspring

Our garden attracts many varieties of butterflies, skippers and moths. Among the most dramatic, though common, butterflies are the swallowtails. At this time of year we see dozens and dozens of tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucas) on the tall perennial phlox late in the afternoon.
In this hot dry weather, many butterflies need supplemental water, sugar and minerals.
To feed adult butterflies, fruit and Gatorade are replenished almost daily.
Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar about to make a chrysalis.
If you want a LOT of butterflies, it helps to provide the plants where they lay their eggs. Many butterflies are host specific and will lay eggs only on one type of plant.

Many types of swallowtail caterpillars look similar. Black swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes asterius Stoll) hang out, dance around and mate on the perennial phlox so this could be one of their caterpillars.

Swallowtail caterpillar eating dill, a favorite food.
This year the garden has a dozen parsley plants, 8 fennel plants, and plenty of dill. We are being rewarded with plenty of caterpillars.

Our view of the butterfly feeder from the kitchen window.

Giant swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes Cramer caterpillar

Giant swallowtail butterflies are the largest of the species with wings that span 6-inches and more. To bring them to the garden, we grow rue. We started with one plant given to us by another butterfly grower, then I started several plants from seed. Now our mature plants are making seed.
Rue for Giant Swallowtail larvae - can you see the eggs?

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar, Papilio troilus

Here's a link to a website that chronicles bringing butterfly eggs and caterpillars into the house to enjoy watching the entire process up close. The site is Berkeleys Anise Swallowtails. By the way the butterflies called Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) looks a lot like the Western Tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) and the Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

What's that Bug, "If you live in the central to eastern states, the you have Black Swallowtails. If you are west of the Rocky Mountains, they are Anise Swallowtails."

Joyful Butterfly's site provides a list of host plants
Anise Swallowtailanise, parsley, carrot, dill, fennel, rue
Eastern Black Swallowtailparsley, carrot, dill, fennel, rue
Giant Swallowtailcitrus, hop tree, prickly ash, rue
Pipevine Swallowtaildutchman's pipe, pipevines (not the exotics), Virginia snakeroot
Spicebush Swallowtailspicebush, sassafras, camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtailmany broadleaf trees and shrubs, lilac, willow, birch, tuliptree, cherry
Zebra Swallowtailpawpaw
MonarchMilkweed (Asclepias)
Viceroywillow, poplar, aspen, apple, cherry, plum
Red-Spotted Purpleapple, aspen, cherry, hawthorn, hornbeam, poplar, willow
Great Spangled Fritillaryviolets, (Viola tricolor)
Variegated FritillaryViolets, (Viola tricolor), pansies, stonecrops, passionflowers, plantains
Meadow Fritillaryviolets (Viola sororia, Viola pallens)
Mourning Cloakelm, poplar, willow
Question Markelm, hackberry, hop, nettle
Green Commarhododendron, azalea, birch, willow
Red Admiralnettle, false nettle, hop
Painted Ladymembers of the mallow family, Malva sylvestris, Tree mallow (Lavatera)
American Painted Ladydaisies, everlastings, other composites, Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
Buckeyeplantain, snapdragon, stonecrop, verbena, (Verbena bonariensis)
Baltimore Checkerspotturtlehead, false foxglove, plantain, white ash
Pearly Crescentspotasters New England Aster (A. novae-angliae)
Great Purple Hairstreakmistletoes
Gray Hairstreakcotton, mallows, strawberry, legumes, mints
American Coppersheep sorrel, curly dock, mountain sorrel
Tailed Blueclovers, beans, peas
Spring Azureblueberry, California lilac, dogwoods, meadowsweet, viburnums
Cloudless Sulphursenna, clovers, other legumes
Clouded Sulphurclovers and other legumes
Orange Sulphurwhite clover, alfalfa, vetch, lupine
Dogfacefalse indigo, clovers, lupine, vetch, leadplant
Checkered Whitecrucifers, Cleome
Cabbage WhiteCabbage, Mustards, other crucifers, nasturtium
Zebra Longwingpassionflowers
Gulf Fritillarypassionflowers, (Passiflora caerulea)


I don't have as many swallowtails this year as last, but as you know, my bug population is way down anyway. I have to wonder who sprayed. I have no bumbles to speak of, no honeybees, very few of the smaller pollinators, etc. I do have Gulf Fritillary butterflies everywhere because of the passion flower vine. I also have voracious grasshoppers. Thanks for the good info. Hope you got rain. We did not.~~Dee

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