Host plants are the plants that butterflies like to lay their eggs on. These are the plants that caterpillars feed off of while they’re growing, and may also provide a place for the caterpillars to make their cocoons.
These plants may receive some damage, so be prepared for that. It’s surprising how many people plant these things with the specific purpose of attracting butterflies to lay their eggs there, yet they’re shocked with the caterpillars start to eat the plants!
Caterpillars are small and slow. They can’t travel very far in search of food, so butterflies generally only lay their eggs on plants where they know the caterpillars can survive. If they lay their eggs on the wrong type of plant, the caterpillars will probably not live.
You may be a bit disturbed at first to willingly allow “pests” to chomp on your garden plants. If you’re bothered by the sight of plants with holes in them, you might want to locate your host plants in a location that is a bit less visible.
Make sure you provide these host plants nearby the nectar-providing plants. If they are located too far away, you will probably end up with fewer butterflies in your garden. Now we’ll take a look at some of the most popular butterflies and which plants you’ll need to have as host plants if you wish to have the chance to have these particular butterflies in your garden.
Having these host plants doesn’t guarantee you’ll have any of these butterflies, but it certainly increases your odds! Monarch butterflies are one of the most popular and well-known butterflies. If you don’t know what monarch butterflies are, they’re those medium-sized orange and black butterflies. They only lay their eggs on milkweed. If you want monarch butterflies to visit your yard, then you must have milkweed available.
Black swallowtails are those giant yellow and black butterflies. I think everyone in the U.S. has probably seen these! They’re very large and noticeable. They lay their eggs on dill, carrots, parsley, and fennel. You’ll see these around a lot of herb and vegetable gardens.
European cabbage butterflies and white cabbage butterflies lay their eggs on cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables. They enjoy cabbage, mustard greens, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables in the cabbage and mustard families.
Eastern tiger swallowtails lay their eggs on sycamore and willow trees. If you have these trees in your yard, you’ve probably seen their fat, green caterpillars. Painted lady butterflies are very popular. They are orange, black, and white, and look a bit like the monarch butterfly. Painted ladies lay their eggs on plants such as thistle, hollyhock, and sunflower.
The spicebush swallowtail is a very interesting butterfly. Its caterpillars are quite scary looking, as they appear to have a large, frightening face! They lay their eggs on spice bushes and sassafras trees. If you want to have these crazy looking little critters in your lawn, be sure to plant some of these spicy trees!