Want Butterflies? You Need Host Plants!

Updated: May 3

Everybody wants a butterfly garden to see these magnificent creatures flitting from flower to flower. Unfortunately, the most important part is usually overlooked, the host plants. Host plants are specific plants that feed the larval stage of the lovely butterfly. Here’s a short list of host plants and the larvae they are hosting.


Acer rubrum (Red Maple) - Cecropia Moth


Actaea racemosa - Black Cohosh - Spring Azure


Apios americanus (American Groundnut) - Silver-spotted Skipper


Aquilegia canadensis (Wild Columbine) - Columbine Duskywing


Amorpha canescens (Lead Plant) - Dogface sulfur, Gray Hairstreak


Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem) - Delaware Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Cobweb Skipper


Aristolochia durior (Dutchman’s Pipe) - Pipevine swallowtail


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) - Hoary Elfin, Brown Elfin


Aronia arbutifolia (Red Chokeberry) - Coral Hairstreak


Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard) - Dusky Azure


Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger) : Pipevine swallowtail


Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed), Asclepias incarnata ssp pulchra (Showy Swamp Milkweed), Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed), Asclepias exaltata (Poke Milkweed), Asclepias verticillata (Whorled Milkweed), Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed), Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)


Asimina triloba (Paw Paw) - Zebra swallowtail, Pawpaw Sphinx


Aster laeve (Smooth Aster) - Pearl Crescent


Aster novae angliae (New England Aster) - Pearl Crescent, Checkerspot


Aster novae belgii (New York Aster) - Pearl Crescent


Aster umbellatus (Flat-topped Aster) - Pearl Crescent, Harris’ Checkerspot


Baptisia australis (False Indigo) - Wild Indigo Duskywing, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Orange Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Frosted Elfin, and Hoary Edge


Baptisia tinctora (Wild Indigo) - Frosted Elfin, Wild Indigo Duskywing


Betula nigra (River Birch) - Mourning Cloak, Luna Moth, Polyphemous Moth


Betula papyrifera (White Birch) - Luna Moth


Betula populifolia (Gray Birch) - Easter Tiger Swallowtail


Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats Grama) - Green Skipper, Sheep Skipper, Dotted Skipper, Orange Skipperling


Callicarpa americana (American Beautybush) - Spring Azure, Snowberry Clearwing Moth


Callirhoe involucrata (Poppy Mallow) - Gray Hairstreak


Campsis radicans (Trumpet Vine) - Trumpet Vine Sphinx Moth


Carex stricta (Tussock Sedge) - Mulberry Wing, Eyed Brown, Black Dash


Carya species (Hickory) - Banded Hairstreak


Chelone glabra (White Turtlehead) - Baltimore Checkerspot


Celtis occidentalis (Common Hackberry) - Question Mark, Tawny Emperor, American Snout, Mourning Cloak


Cercis canadensis (Redbud) - Henry’s Elfin


Ceanothus americana (New Jersey Tea) - Spring Azure, Summer Azure, Mottled Duskywing


Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge Pea) - Gray Hairstreak


Cornus racemosa (Gray Dogwood) - Gray Hairstreak


Diospyros virginiana (Common Persimmon) - Luna Moth


Fagus grandifolia (American Beech) - Early Hairstreak


Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry) - Gray Hairstreak, Grizzled Skipper


Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust) - Silver Spotted Skipper


Heliopsis helianthoides (Ox-eye Daisy) - Painted Lady, Baltimore Checkerspot


Ilex opaca (American Holly) - Henry’s elfin


Ilex verticillata (Winterberry) - Harris’ Three-Spot Moth, Black-shouldered Gray Moth


Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) - Banded Hairstreak, Luna Moth


Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar) - Juniper Hairstreak


Lindera benzoin (Spicebush) - Spicebush Swallowtail, Easter Tiger Swallowtail


Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweet Gum) - Luna Moth


Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree) - Tiger Swallowtail


Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay) - Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Sweetbay Silkmoth, Spicebush Swallowtail


Mimulus ringens (Monkey Flower) - Common Buckeye, Baltimore Checkerspot


Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) - Delaware Skipper, Dotted Skipper


Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine) - Gray Hairstreak


Prunus maritima (Beach Plum) - Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-Spotted Purple, Striped Hairstreak


Prunus serotina (Black Cherry) - Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry) - Small-eyed Sphinx Moth


Ptelea trifoliata (Wafer Ash) - Black Swallowtail


Pycnanthemum flexuosum (Mountain Mint) - Gray Hairstreak


Quercus species (Oak) Host Plant Superstars - Banded Hairstreak and so many, many more butterflies and moths


Rhexia virginica (Meadow Beauty) - Gray Hairstreak


Rhus copallinum (Winged Sumac) - Red-Banded Hairstreak, Luna Moth


Rudbeckia hirta - Gorgone Checkerspot, Bordered Patch


Salix discolor (Pussy Willow) - Mourning Cloak, Viceroy


Salix nigra (Black Willow) - Viceroy, Red-spotted Purples


Sassafras albidum (Sassafras) - Spicebush Swallowtail


Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem) - Indian Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Cobweb Skipper


Solidago sempervirens (Seaside Goldenrod) - Wavy-lined emerald


Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass) - Pepper-and-Salt Skipper


Spirea alba (Meadowsweet) - Spring Azure


Tridens flavus (Purple Top Grass) - Broad-winged Skipper, Little Glassywing Skipper, Large Wood Nymph, Crossline Skipper


Vaccinium angustifolium (Lowbush Blueberry) - Pawpaw Moth and several other moths


Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry) - Brown Elfin


Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain) - Common Buckeye


Vernonia noveboracensis (New York Ironweed) - Parthenice Tiger Moth


Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood) - Spring Azure, Saddleback caterpillar (Slug Moth) which can cause a very painful sting so admire from a distance


Viburnum trilobum (American Cranberrybush) - Spring Azure


Viola labradorica (Labrador Violet) - Fritillaries


Wisteria frutescens (American Wisteria) - Silver Spotted Skipper, Long-tailed Skipper


Zizia aptera (Heartleaf Golden Alexanders) - Black Swallowtail


Zizia aurea (Golden Alexanders) - Black Swallowtail


All plants are available from KMS Native Plants LLC.


References: www.wildflower.org



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