Wednesday, September 30, 2009

False Foxglove, Host to Buckeye Butterflies

Buckeye butterflies Junonia coenia are willing to lay eggs on different host plants, unlike some that will use only one plant, like those that use only a certain species of passion vine. The common element is that the plants that they choose contain a certain glycoside that is a deterrent to predators.

Buckeye nectaring on Tithonia
According to Georgia Wildlife Federation, Buckeye hosts include: Ruellia, Penstemon, Snapdragon, Toadflax (Linaria canadensis), Chelone.

False Foxgloves (Gerardia) Agalinis sp. which bloom in September here are popular fall hosts.

Host plants vary in different areas of the country. Buckeye host plants used in southern Ohio include various figworts, plantains, vervains and acanthus. (Ohio DNR "Common Butterflies & Skippers of Ohio" p.44) -- I frequently see plantains listed as hosts.

An interesting thing about Agalinis is that it is a parasite on the roots of certain trees, including Sweetgum, Sycamore and Slash Pine. I had determined to scatter seeds of Agalinis after they ripen. Knowing that they require a host will determine where I scatter, to increase the chances of good growth. An annual, they are not thought to be a threat except possibly to second year growth in tree plantations.



  1. What great information. We grow Penstemon and Ruellia here. I will have to start looking for butterflies next to them.

  2. Very informative post, I had no clue about the plants these butterflies use for hosts. I am finding out I know pretty much nothing about butterflies. Thanks for teaching me some great stuff.

  3. Hi, just visiting your blog & post. Hope you would drop by my blog when you are free.

    I had lime butterflies from caterpillar to a butterfly, Its really breathtaking to experience one butterfly.
    Happy Blogging.

  4. Nell Jean - Sometimes after I read your informative posts, I'm convinced that I know nuttin' about nuttin'. Amazing that there's a butterfly that will only lay eggs on one certain species of passion vine. Sounds like a recipe for disaster for the butterfly.

  5. Well, I just learned 2 new things today, right here. (Does that mean I can go home now and put my feet up?) Thanks for visiting Blithewold - let's stay in touch!

  6. Love the title of your blog, as I have been tempted many times to scatter seeds along my path to life!

  7. That's a great photo of the Buckeye Butterfly...Sycamores are my favorite tree, but we haven't any...too bad, I would love the pretty Agalinis! Thanks for all the good info. gail

  8. NellJean,
    Love those buckeyes. I see them more along the roadsides than in my garden... but once in a while one or two will wander through for a visit.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  9. wonderful information and that Buckeye is beautiful. hugs, Cherry

  10. Buckeyes are so beautiful. I didn't know that they didn't have a single species of plant required for their larval stage. Thanks for the info!

  11. Lovely blooms and butterfly. I enjoyed reading the information, too.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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