Saturday, May 7, 2011

Caterpillars Turn into Butterflies; How to Feed Them

Pipevine climbing an oak tree in the back yard.

I found Pipevine described at NC State. This pipevine does not have the huge 'pipe' flowers that are usually pictured as pipevine. This is a native host plant.

Pipevine Swallowtail nectaring on echinacea.
Host plant here is Aristolochia durior.

Pawpaws are blooming out front near Lantana,
handy for Zebra Swallowtails laying eggs.
 Asimina augustiflora or Pawpaw.

I saw a a Zebra swallowtail today.
Host plant Pawpaw has leafed out; Lantana blooms are abundant.
Zebra on Lantana. Notice the long tails.

Cassia alata in the near view.
I'm behind on scattering seeds and transplanting Cassia seedlings to host Sulphur butterflies.

Beautyberry, Passiflora vines and Lantana grow in an uncultivated area outside my garden for Gulf Fritillary larvae and the delight of many butterflies.

Last month I posted a pic of Buckeye caterpillars feasting on common weeds. It salves my conscience about not being a good weeder when I know cudweed and toadflax are feeding future butterflies. A neater gardener might just let them eat her Snapdragons.

Watch the video closely. You may see the Zebra Swallowtail in the center, some Pipevine Swallowtails; maybe you'll see an American Painted Lady or a Buckeye. Droning noise in the background is an irrigation engine watering corn nearby.

It was a regular zoo today, Tigers as well as Zebras.
Tigers' hosts vary. Wild cherry is common here.

Host plants and butterflies vary by climate, season and location.
What grows in your area as butterfly hosts?

I was out making pics for a Hope Grows  post on Fruit when I noticed the pipevine near a peach tree. My Hope Grows post is on My Dotty Plants blog.


  1. You're a lucky lady to have so many butterflies so early in the month of May. You do feed them well, so no wonder they are plentiful.

    donna......butterflyless (without butterflies)

  2. Thanks for the info. Not sure what plants host butterflies,never payed attention before. This year I will thanks to you.

  3. That first video of all the butterflies was just incredible! Wow! You are a very good gardener to allow so many host plants to grow to feed these lovely flying flowers. I think the lantana-beautyberry-passion vine is an ingenious area!

  4. I made it back to see your butterfly post. I enjoyed the videos. I have seen a few butterflies so far. I have been seeing one monarch at a time, and don't know if it's been the same one, or not. I saw a red admiral at a plant sale in a greenhouse today.

  5. I forgot to say I grow parsley, dill, fennel, several kinds of milkweed, and rue for host plants. I also have a couple beauty berry plants. I don't know which caterpillars eat them.

  6. What amazing photos, the Pipevine Swallowtail picture is really beautiful!

  7. I haven't seen that many butterflies in a very long time as I saw in your video!

    Since the new road keeping me from mowing the front ditch, I have plans to allow it to become a wild flower patch. I already have several in it and will add more. I should check host plants and lean in that direction. Thanks for giving me that idea.

    The farmer in my soul is interested in the it from a deep well or a body of water? I wish you all weren't having to water this early in the year.


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

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