Bring Butterflies, Skippers and Moths to Your Garden

Many people love the sight of butterflies, moths and skippers in their garden. Planning ahead can help bring more this summer.

Carole Sevilla Brown recently posted a list of five actions to take to improve your butterfly gardening and it's an important place to start. Brown's blog entry is at

Maybe you have some ideas that work for you. We'd love to hear those since we always want more!

Start Here
Find out what kind of butterflies, moths and skippers are common or native to your neck of the woods so you can plant what they raise their babies (caterpillars or larvae) on. When these insects are born in your garden they tend to stick around and make a few new generations as long as the food lasts.

Butterfly weed - Asclepias tuberosa
Mass planting instead of spot planting is a great suggestion from Brown's blog. A single zinnia here and there will bring a single adult butterfly since only one at a time can nectar. 

A mass of butterfly weed, rue, dill, parsley and other caterpillar food will encourage females to lay several eggs.

Migrating butterflies, moths and skippers are another set of issues since they go where the weather suits them. During our last two drought and record heat summers, monarchs have avoided our area for the most part. Before this recent change in weather, we had several generations of monarchs during migration but in the past two years, only one or two.

The Butterfly Site has lists of natives by state at

You can click on your state and get not only a list of them but click on a name to see photos of adults, caterpillar, egg and chrysalis. Skippers are on the same page.

There are also links to worldwide butterfly pages, how-to tips on butterfly gardening, etc.

Most butterfly houses you visit feed their butterflies Gator Aid and we do, too. We put it out with over-ripe fruit in protected plates raised above the ground.

Males need mud and that's easy to provide in a saucer on the ground. They give the minerals in the mud to the females when they fertilize the eggs.

Zinnias bring butterflies and skippers to the garden.
  Many food plants of butterfly caterpillars are easily started from seed this month making it possible to have masses of what they like ready to go as soon as warm days bring them out from their winter hiding places.

Shady Oak Butterfly Farm posted this on Facebook
Pipevine Swallowtail and Polydamas (Gold Rim) Swallowtail Host Plants
*Most if not all of these plants go by the common name Dutchman’s Pipe which is why the scientific name is so important.

Pipevine Swallowtail:
  • Aristolochia tomentosa (wooly pipevine)
  • Aristolochia Fimbriata (white veined pipevine)
  • Aristolochia Macrophylla or Aristolochia Durior (Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia Pandurata synonym of Aristolochia odoratissima L (fragrant Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia Serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot) (one plant is never large enough to raise even one caterpillar)
  • Aristolochia Clematitis (birthwort)
Gold Rim / Polydamas Swallowtail host plants:
  • Aristolochia Elegans (calico flower)
  • Aristolochia Pandurata synonym of Aristolochia odoratissima L (fragrant Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia Trilobata (Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia Gigantea (Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, Giant Pelican Flower)
  • Aristolochia Tagala (Indian birthwort)
Neither will eat:
  • Aristolochia ringens (gaping Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia brasiliensis (Dutchman’s pipe)


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