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Old 07-30-2010, 10:35 PM   #1
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Default Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants

An excellent article (pdf version, too!) on Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants.
by Thomas G. Barnes, Ph.D., Associate Extension Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist, University of Kentucky.

FOR-98:
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Old 07-31-2010, 03:50 PM   #2
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Very interesting article, I found it very informative, especially because I live in Kentucky. I did not know that Diana fritillary is found mostly in eastern Kentucky not in central KY because its host plant doesn't normally grow here. Another interesting fact is that dogbane is the number one butterfly attracting plant for nectar, with 43 species feeding on it. That makes me happy because I have a lot of it! I printed this article for future reference, the concise table of host plants is also very useful. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:55 AM   #3
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I see Dogbane at my family's farm where it seems to grow in the moist hedgerows, but it's mixed in with other things like Buttonbush and Asclepias incarnata, so I never really watched to see how attractive it was to butterflies.

I'll be looking at Dogbane differently now!

The comments about the tube-shaped flowers got me thinking, too.
I have a little spot under a gutter where I have Clethra, Monarda and Lobelia, and I see lots of Silver-spotted skippers and Swallowtails there, but only an occasional Hairstreak or Monarch. I need to add some kind of moisture-tolerant flower with a different shape. But that's another post!
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:09 PM   #4
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Thank you for sharing this article.

I do not believe I have ever seen a spread sheet denoting puddle usage by species before. I found that information quite helpful.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:36 PM   #5
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Took a while for me to find this thread. Excellent comments made, "The caterpillar stage is very important and is perhaps more important than the adult stage. Caterpillars have large jaws and a huge gut. Their primary goal in life is to eat and grow to a size where they can pupate. While an adult can roam over the landscape, caterpillars are pretty sedentary, meaning they don't move much. Their entire world can consist of a single leaf or plant. Although they have huge appetites, they are highly selective about what they eat. The adult female lays an egg in the right spot on the right plant for the caterpillar. The caterpillar then eats and eats and eats until it pupates." This is a VERY good find.
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Old 08-17-2010, 03:14 AM   #6
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50 plants, 50 of one plant that blooms within one time period rather then 10 each of 5 different plants!
If you want to hit the 2 peak periods June/July and August/Sept that makes 100 plants, 50 for each time period.
They will have to be mighty small plants for a small yard.
The only plant I have the works with those numbers are violets.
I don't really know how to achieve that number without running into other problems, like different microcosms in the garden not supporting the same types of plants and when I do plant sweeps of one plant they form monocultures that are more prone to be affected by disease. Not to mention trying at the same time to fit in berrying and fruiting trees and shrubs for the birds.
Time to rethink and choose directions.
This does seem to answer some questions I have about why I have only indvidual butterfly sightings rather then groups of butterflies.
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:35 PM   #7
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Excellent article, thanks for posting, Teresa! It really is a fabulous article, with one mistake. The author called the pupa a cocoon instead of a chrysalis. Not a mistake I'd expect someone with a PhD to make. A moth makes a cocoon; a butterfly makes a chrysalis.

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Life cycle: Adult female black swallowtail lays eggs on fennel, a host plant. Eggs develop into a caterpillar, which pupates. An adult will emerge from the cocoon, and the life cycle begins anew. Adult, Eggs, Caterpillar, Cocoon
I wonder if he wrote the article, then had an intern/student edit? Hmm...

Very useful article, nonetheless.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:23 PM   #8
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"The adult female lays an egg in the right spot on the right plant for the caterpillar."

They obviously don't know about the female Gulf Fritillary butterflies, who have been known to lay eggs on a wooden fence on occasion! But a great article anyway!
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Old 08-18-2010, 04:01 PM   #9
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It is a great article. Kentucky is close enough to NC to be relevant to my garden and our GS Butterfly garden.

I must confess that the plant in my garden that is covered by the most butterflies consistently is non-native - lantana. My natives haven't grown enough yet, many were planted this year and haven't bloomed yet, so it isn't a fair comparison, but my lantana has spent the past six weeks covered in various swallowtails and skippers. When I pull out my other non-natives, that one is going to stay.
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turttle View Post
It is a great article. Kentucky is close enough to NC to be relevant to my garden and our GS Butterfly garden.

I must confess that the plant in my garden that is covered by the most butterflies consistently is non-native - lantana. My natives haven't grown enough yet, many were planted this year and haven't bloomed yet, so it isn't a fair comparison, but my lantana has spent the past six weeks covered in various swallowtails and skippers. When I pull out my other non-natives, that one is going to stay.
I've had quite a different experience with Lantana, which I have in a pot on the deck - I've not seen an insect of any type near it all summer. My version of your Lantana is Buddlea, which I've yet to cut down. I'm reluctant to because of the pollinator activity that is always around it, the fact that it is not capable of being invasive here in Northeasten Mass (usually the parent plant cannot make it from year to year), and the fact that it doesn't take space away from something else I could be growing as space is not an issue here.

The Lantana, on the other hand, has become ugly to me, and I would destroy it except that my neighbor watered it for me while I was away this summer and I'd be embarrassed if he came by and asked me where it went!
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