Butterfly Information

Butterfly Information

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Butterfly Information

Primary Larval Food Plants and the Butterflies That Use Them

T = tree, S = shrub, F = flower, V = vegetable

Plant Butterfly    
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) F Clouded sulphur, alfalfa sulphur, eastern tailed blue
Aspen, cottonwood (Populus spp.) T White admiral, red-spotted purple, western admiral, Lorquin’s admiral, viceroy, mourning cloak
     tiger swallowtail, western tiger swallowtail
Aster (Aster spp.) F Pearl crescent  
Bean (Phaseolus spp.) V Long-tailed skipper
Birch (Betula spp.) T Mourning cloak, white admiral
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) S Brown elfin  
Cabbage, broccoli (Brassica spp.) V Cabbage white, checkered white
Cherry (Prunus spp.) T, S Red-spotted purple, tiger swallowtail, spring azure
Citrus trees (Citrus spp.) T Anise swallowtail, giant swallowtail
Clover (Trifolium spp.) F Clouded sulphur, alfalfa sulphur, eastern tailed blue
Dogwood (Cornus spp.) T, S Spring azure  
Elm (Ulmus spp.) T Comma, question mark, mourning cloak
Everlasting (Gnaphalium spp.) F American painted lady
False indigo (Amorpha spp.) S Dog face, silver-spotted skipper
False nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) F Red admiral, question mark, comma, Milbert’s tortoiseshell
Grasses, sedges (various genera) Common wood nymph, little wood satyr, eyed brown, ringlet, fiery skipper, European skipper
Hackberry (Celtis spp.) T Question mark, comma, hackberry butterfly, tawny emperor, snout butterfly, mourning cloak
Hops (Humulus lupulus) F Question mark, comma
Knotweed (Polygonum spp.) F Purplish copper  
Locust (Robinia spp.) T, S Silver-spotted skipper
Lupine (Lupinus spp.) F Silvery blue, other blues
Mallow (Malva spp.) F West Coast lady, gray hairstreak
Marigold (Tagetes spp.) F Dainty sulphur  
Meadowsweet (Spiraea spp.) S Spring azure  
Milk vetch (Astragalus spp.) F Western tailed blue, other blues
Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) F Monarch, queen  
Nettle (Urtica spp.) F Red admiral, question mark, comma, Milbert’s tortoiseshell
Oak (Quercus spp.) T, S Sister, banded hairstreak
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) V Black swallowtail, anise swallowtail
Passionflower (Passiflora spp.) F Gulf fritillary, zebra
Pawpaw (Asimina spp.) T Zebra swallowtail  
Pipevine (Aristolochia spp.) F Pipevine swallowtail
Plantain (Plantago spp.) F Buckeye, Baltimore
Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) F Black swallowtail, anise swallowtail
Senna (Cassia spp.) F Cloudless sulphur
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum spp.) F Buckeye  
Sneezeweed (Helenium spp.) F Dainty sulphur  
Sorrel, dock (Rumex spp.) F American copper, purplish copper
Spicebush, sassafras (Lindera spp.) S Spicebush swallowtail, tiger swallowtail
Stonecrop (Sedum spp.) F Phoebus parnassian
Sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) F Anise swallowtail, black swallowtail
Thistle (Cirsium spp.) F Painted lady  
Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) T Tiger swallowtail  
Turtlehead (Chelone spp.) F Baltimore, buckeye
Vetch (Vicia spp.) F Alfalfa sulphur, eastern tailed blue, western tailed blue, other blues
Violet (Viola spp.) F Great spangled fritillary, meadow fritillary, other fritillaries
Willow (Salix spp.) T, S Western admiral, Lorquin’s admiral, viceroy, mourning cloak, western tiger swallowtail
Winter cress (Barbarea spp.) F Sara orange tip, falcate orange tip, cabbage white

Butterfly Nectar Sources

Butterfly Nectar Sources Zone Height Color
Common Name (Scientific Name)      
Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)   6-8 in. purple
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), ‘Sensation’   3 ft. pink,whites
Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)   1 ft. purple
Lantana (Lantana camara)   1-3 ft. red,yellow,blue
Lunaria, honesty (Lunaria annua) — sometimes biennial   2-3 ft. purple,white
Marigold, French marigold (Tagetes patula)   1 ft. yellow,orange
Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)   3-5 ft. yellow,orange
Nicotiana, flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata)   2 ft pinks,whites
Pentas (Pentas lanceolata) — subshrub   1 1/2 ft purple,rose,white
Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)   1 ft. pink,white,blue
Scabiosa, pincushion flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea)   1 1/2 ft.  blue
Statice (Limonium sinuatum)   1-1 1/2 ft. purple,blue
Verbena (Verbena x hortensis, V. x hybrida)   1 ft. rose, pink
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)   1 – 2 ft. pinks,yellows,rose
Common Name (Scientific Name)      
PERENNIALS Zone Height Color
Allium (Allium spp.) — bulb 3 2-4 ft. purple
Arabis (Arabis albida) 4 6 in. white
Aubrieta, purple rock cress (Aubrieta deltoidea) 4 3 – 6 in. purple
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) 2 2 ft.  purple
Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) 3 2-31/2 ft. purple,sometimes,pink,white
Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) — biennial, perennial 3 9 – 24 in. blue
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) 4 3 ft pink, red
Black-eyed Susan, gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia spp.) — biennial, perennial 3 3 ft yellow
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) 3 2-3 ft. orange
Catmint (Nepeta mussinii) 4 1 ft.  blue-purple
Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.) 3 2 ft. yellow
Daisy, shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum, C. x superbum) 4 2-3 ft.  white
Daylily (Hemerocallls spp.) 2 2-3 ft. yellow,orange,peach,pink
Erigeron, fleabane (Erigeron speciosus) 2 1-3 ft. lavender,blue
Gaillardia, blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandifiora) 2 1-3 ft. yellow,and,red
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) 5 1-5 ft. purple
Liatris, blazing-star, gay-feather (Liatris spp.) 2 2-4 ft. mauve
Lily (Lilium spp.) 3 2-5 ft. yellow,pink,white,red
Loosestrife (Lythrum virgatum), ‘Morden’s Gleam’ 3 3-4 ft. pink
Mint (Mentha spp.) 3 1 – 4 ft. purple,white
Phlox (Phlox spp.) 4 3 ft. pink,white,rose,blue,mauve
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) 3 2-3 ft. pink, white
Red valerian (Centranthus rube’) 4 2-3 ft. deep rose
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) — subshrub 6 2-6 ft. violet-blue
Sunflower (Helianthus spp.) 3 3-5 ft. yellow
Veronica (Veronica spp.) 5 6-18 in. blue, pink
Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina), ‘Coronation Gold’ 2 2-3 ft. yellow
Aster, Michaelmas daisy (Aster spp.) 2 3-5 ft. purple,ruby,pink,blue
Globe thistle (Echinops exaltatus) 3 2-4 ft. purple
Physostegia, obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) 2 21/2-4 ft. pink
Sedum, showy sedum (Sedum spectabile vulgaris) 3 1-11/2 ft. pink
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) 3 2-3 ft. yellow,orange
Common Name (Scientific Name)      
WILDFLOWERS Zone Height Color
Clover (Trifolium spp.) 3 4—8 in. pink, white
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) 3 6–8 in. yellow
Hawkweed (Hieracium spp.) 3 . 6–12 in.
Winter cress (Barbarea spp.) 3 1—11/2 ft. yellow
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) 3 1-2 ft. orange
Daisy, Oxeye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) 3 1—2 ft. white
Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) 3 1—2 ft. pink
Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) 3 3 ft. pink
Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum spp.) 2 1—2h/2 ft. white
Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) 3 1—3 ft. white
Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) 3 3–31/2 ft. white
Thistle (Cirsium spp.) 3 3—4 ft. purple
Vetch (Vida spp.) 3 6 ft. purple
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) 3 3–4 ft. lavender
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) 2 2 ft. white
Aster (Aster spp., especially A. novae-angliae) 3 4 ft. purple-blue
Beggar ticks (Bidens aristosa) 4 1–3 ft. yellow
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) 3 4–5 ft. white
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) 3 3 ft. yellow
Ironweed (Vernonia spp.) 4 3–7 ft. purple
Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium spp.) 2 5—9 ft. pinkish purple
Common Name (Scientific Name)      
SHRUBS Zone Height Color
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) 3 20 ft. purple,pink,white
Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.) 4 to 18 ft. pink,purple,white
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) 4 15 ft. yellow
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii, B. alternifolia) 5 6—15 ft. purple
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) 4 15 ft. white
Flame-of-the-woods (Ixora coccinea) 10 15 ft. red and yellow
Honeysuckle shrub (Lonicera tatarica) 3 9 ft. pale pink
New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americans) 4 3 ft. white
Privet: Amur privet (Ligustrum amurense) in North 3 15 ft. white
California privet (L. ovalifolium) in Calif. 6 15 ft. white
Japanese privet (L. japonicum) in South 7 6–18 ft. white
Sweet pepperbush, summer sweet (Clethra alnifolia) 3 4–6 ft. white
Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) 5 2–4 ft. blue
Glossy abelia (Abel/a x grandiflora) 5 5 ft. pink
Sweet pepperbush (Clethra arborea) 9 25 ft. white
Common Name (Scientific Name)      
TREES Zone Height Color
Buckeye (Aesculus spp.) 3 75 ft. white,greenishyellow,pink
Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata) 4 30 ft. white
Plum, cherry (Prunus spp.) 3 20–30 ft. pink
Willow (Salix spp.) 2 10-45 ft. greenishyellow
VINES Zone Height Color
 Lonicera brownii  4  10-20 ft.  Coral

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