Category Archives: Butterflies

Top Three Trees for Butterflies

When planning a butterfly garden one typically thinks of planting flowers. But did you know that trees are some of the best plants for attracting butterflies?

There are many different trees that attract butterflies, both as a source of nectar and as a host plant for caterpillars. Trees also provide butterflies protection during bad weather as well as a place for them to perch during the day and to roost during the night.

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is attracted to the sweet blooms of the American Plum (Prunus americana).

Three common species of trees that support dozens of butterfly species and hundreds of moth species include oaks, willows, and chokecherries.

Oaks (Quercus spp.) support many different species of butterflies including the myriad hairstreak and duskywing species as well as the California Sister (Adelpha californica) and the Arizona Sister (Adelpha eulalia). Oaks also support the Imperial moth (Eacles imperiali), the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) and the Rosy Maple moth (Dryocampa rubicunda) in addition to others.

A Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) is sipping on the sap of an oak tree.

There is such an incredible diversity of oak species that exist across the entire North American continent, many which are small shrubs that can be used to add to your landscape. Some examples are the California Shrub Oak (Quercus berberidifolia), the Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii) found in the Southwestern deserts into the Great Plains, the Turkey Oak (Quercus laevis) of the Southeast and the Scrub Oak (Quercus ilicifolia) of southeastern Canada and northeastern United States.

California Sister (Adelpha californica) on oak. Photo by David Horner http://solardarkroom.photoshelter.com/index

The Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is another tree that is distributed throughout much of the United States and southern Canada and is quite adaptable to various soil types and planting conditions. Chokecherry attracts widespread species of butterflies, both as a host plant for caterpillars and as a source of nectar for butterflies. Among the butterflies that use the Chokecherry as a host plant are the Lorquin Admira(Limenitis lorquini), the Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata), the Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) and the Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus).

Chokecherry blossoms in spring are a good place to look for butterflies in search of nectar, as is this Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus). NPS photo by Sally King.

Various willows (Salix spp.) are host plants for the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), and the Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini). Willows are found in every part of the United States and Canada, with locally-appropriate native species available for any butterfly garden. These awesome trees are fast growing and will tolerate many soil types. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Most willows do well in full-sun and moist environments.

Willow trees attract many different species of butterflies including Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini), Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax).

Remember, you will only attract butterflies that are native to your area. Find out what native tree species grow best for your region. The best place to start is a native plant nursery. Click on this link to help you find a native nursery where you live: http://www.plantnative.org/national_nursery_dir_main.htm

 

Banded Orange Heliconian

A very stunning butterfly is the Banded Orange Heliconian (Dryadula phaetusa) also known as the Orange Tiger.

It can be found from Mexico to northern Argentina, and in summer can be found on rare occasions as far north as central Florida.

Photographed at the Minnesota Zoo’s Butterfly Exhibit, the Banded Orange butterfly  sits atop a Purple Coneflower. Copyright © 2005 by April King. Find Coneflower seeds here: http://amzn.to/2oghGMr

The vertical lines on the wings are an example of disruptive patterning. This breaks up the outline of the butterfly to make it difficult for birds and other predators to see and catch it.

Ventral and dorsal view of Banded Orange Heliconian. Photo by Didier Descouens.

This butterfly displays many interesting behaviors. It not only feeds on the nectar of flowers, the males sip nutrients from wet sand and mud and bird droppings. This behavior is called mud-puddling. From the fluids they obtain nutrients such as salts and amino acids needed for successful mating.

Banded Orange Heliconian photographed near Iguazu Falls, where the countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet, and one of the best places in the world to see butterflies. http://www.focusonnature.com/IguazuButterfliesList.htm

It is also common to see the male Banded Orange Heliconian sipping the salty tears of crocodiles.

Males are very territorial and will find a place to perch near the host plant, Passionvine (passiflora spp.), where they can watch for females. They patrol around the area in search of females. Once a potential mate is spotted, the male will flutter around the female in a figure-eight motion before settling beside her. If she is receptive she remains motionless, and the male then half opens his wings. He then flutters them very rapidly for a few seconds to direct his pheromones towards her antennae, which has the effect of placating her. The male then curves his abdomen around to make contact and copulate.

Just like many Heliconius species, the butterflies will find a bush or tree where they can rest for the night. They tend to find the same place every day around dusk to settle down in clusters to roost overnight.

Roosting Banded Orange Heliconian butterflies. Photo by Almir Candido de Almeida.

Butterfly Alphabet Poster http://amzn.to/2od7jZV

Butterflies of North America and the Flowers They Love

Here are some of the most beautiful and most common species of butterflies of North and Central America. Use these butterfly pictures to identify them the next time one flutters into your garden.

Will it be a Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterfly or a Swallowtail (Papilio spp.)? Learn both which ones are near you and which plants attract butterflies with these images.

23 Butterflies of North America And the Flowers They Love - Avasflowers.net - Infographic

Find many of these and other pollinator-friendly flowers at http://amzn.to/2mYBOO7.



Image courtesy Avasflowers.net.

Gratitude

Crimson Patch (Chlosyne janais)

Community Butterfly Murals

There are many ways to brighten our lives with butterflies. Some communities have beautiful butterfly murals that do just that.

This lovely mural is located in South Norfolk, Virginia, (all murals in this article are located in the USA) and was painted by artist Chip Wilkinson.

You can find these Monarch butterflies on the side of Toni’s Market in the Phillips neighborhood of southside Minneapolis.

Monarch butterfly mural in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Roger Peet and Barry Newman. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/about/creative_media/endangered_species_mural_project/

“Monarch Magic” depicts the Monarch butterflies that overwinter in a strand of eucalyptus trees on South Vandenberg Air Force Base. You can see it on a stroll through Old Town Lompoc, California.

Monarch Magic by artist Colleen Goodwin Chronister. http://www.lompocmurals.com/project/monarch-magic/

This beautiful mural is located at Candlelight Ranch near Austin, Texas. Candlelight Ranch provides therapeutic and educational nature-based experiences to enrich the lives of at-risk youth and children with disabilities.

Lyndon Crowson recreated this wonder of nature on the side of a barn at Candlelight Ranch. https://www.101highlandlakes.com/news/butterfly-mural-candlelight-ranch-marble-falls

Sometimes murals have a story. “The Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight,” depicts life in Joplin, Missouri both before and after the devastating tornados of 2011. It was inspired by the stories of young survivors who said that they saw butterfly people who protected them from the storm.

“The Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight,” by artist Dave Loewenstein. http://www.missourilife.com/blogs/mo/the-butterfly-people-of-joplin/

A mural can also be political such as this one, which is intended as a show of support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s campaign to protect their water and sacred grounds from the Dakota Access Pipeline. In addition to the threat to people, water and sacred places, the Dakota Access Pipeline could also kill the Dakota Skipper (Hesperia dacotae) a rare prairie butterfly protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Some murals carry a message of love and hope such as this beautiful artwork in Newark, New Jersey.

Black Butterfly and Love, Artist: Kerns Bruce. http://planning.ci.newark.nj.us/public-murals/

The Monarch butterfly in this mural, located at the Cecil Williams Glide Community House in San Francisco is a symbol of hope for homeless families and individuals, and people recovering from addiction, where they receive support services.

Cecil Williams Glide Community House opened its doors in October 1999. http://epmi-co.com/properties/cw-house/