Georgia Butterfly Host Plants
An important factor to consider when planning a butterfly garden is what you will include as host plants for caterpillars to feed from. Butterfly host plants offer a site for the butterfly to lay their eggs which will also be a food source for the caterpillars once the eggs hatch.
Since caterpillars cannot travel far to forage for food, the female butterflies will lay their eggs on type of plant that their larvae eat. This plant type can be very specific. Many species of caterpillars will only feed of a single plant type, or a couple of different plants, so if you wish to attract a certain species of butterfly to your yard you must also have the larvae host plant nearby.
If a butterfly were to lay her eggs on the wrong type of plant the emerging caterpillar would have no food source and would not survive. Be aware that butterfly host plants will be eaten down and probably look unsightly, so be sure to plant them in a discrete area where they won’t bother you.
Native butterflies will want native plants so be sure to get the native variety of a host plant. Here is a list of Butterfly species in Georgia and their preferred host plants:
Banded Hairstreak – Oaks Quercus species
Black Swallowtail – members of the carrot family including dill, parsley and fennel
Buckeye – Broad-leaf plantain, ruellia, gerardia
Checkered Whites – Mustard family
Cloudless Giant Sulfur – Senna, coffeeweed Cassia species
Giant Swallowtail – Hercules club, members of the citrus family
Gray Hairstreak – Beans, clover
Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwing – Native passion flowers Passiflora
Hackberry Butterfly – Hackberry, elms
Henry’s Elfin – Blueberry
Long-Tailed Skipper – Members of the bean family
Monarch – Milkweed Asclepias species
Mourning Cloak, Viceroy and Question Mark – Elm Ulmus species, willows
Olive Hairstreak – Red cedar
Painted Lady and American Painted Lady – Thistle
Palamedes Swallowtail – Sassafras
Pearly Crescentspot – Native asters
Pipevine Swallowtail – Pipevine, snakeroot
Red-Spotted Purple – Wild cherry
Silver-Spotted Skipper – Black locust and other members of the bean family
Snout Butterfly – Hackberry
Spicebush Swallowtail – Lindera benzoin Spicebush
Spring Azure – Native dogwoods Cornus
Sulfurs, Gray Hairstreak – Clovers, dill, carrot, parsley, fennel
Tiger Swallowtail – Tulip poplar, green ash, white ash, sweet bay, wild cherry
Various Skippers – Native grasses
Zebra Swallowtail – Paw paw Asimina
More on Creating a Wildlife Friendly Landscape
This is part of our series on Creating a Wildlife Friendly Garden.
Ideas for Hedgerows to Provide Shelter and Protection:
Hedgerows for Wildlife Gardens Backyard Habitat
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