Category Archives: Butterflies


In this stunning image of a caiman with a vibrant crown of butterflies, the water that collects on the caiman’s skin is providing salts and minerals for several species of butterflies.

A crown of butterflies (Photo by Mark Cowan.)

Many species of butterflies congregate on wet sand and mud to partake in “puddling,” drinking water and extracting salts and minerals from damp sand or mud. In many species, this “mud-puddling” behavior is restricted to the males, and studies have suggested that the nutrients collected may be provided as a nuptial gift during mating.

Male Swallowtail butterflies puddling along a river bank. Photo by Chelsey Danger. Used with permission.

The first time I observed this behavior I was several years ago in Florida. Our family was enjoying a six-mile tubing adventure down Ichetucknee Springs near Gainesville. (The real Magic Kingdom of Florida.) As we approached the end of our trip, I noticed about fifty swallowtail butterflies of various species congregated together exactly where we needed to get out of the river.

There was a cement embankment that slid down to the river to make it easier to get out of the water. The butterflies seemed totally oblivious to us as we ascended onto the embankment. I realized that as people got out of the river, water from their bodies dripped onto the wet cement. These butterflies were sipping the salts from the sweat being washed off as people got out of the river.

Tubing Florida’s Ichetucknee River. Photo by Robin Draper of Authentic Florida.

Another time I experience this phenomenon was at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida. I was sitting on a bench, enjoying the many species of tropical butterflies inside the exhibit. It was a very hot day and I was covered in sweat. To my surprise, and utter delight, a Malachite butterfly (Siproeta stelenes) landed on my hand and proceeded to stick its proboscis onto my sweaty hand to sip the salt. It stayed there for several minutes, totally oblivious to my camera.

This Malachite butterfly (Siproeta stelenes) is enjoying the salt from my hand.

Recently Carol Pasternak, author of How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Children , noticed a Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) butterfly on the shoelace of her running shoes. Apparently the perspiration from her arduous workout seeped into the shoelaces providing a tasty treat for the butterfly.

Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus). Photo by the Monarch Butterfly Crusader, Carol Pasternak. Used with permission.

Who knew that old sweaty shoes would attract so many butterflies!

Photo by Юрий Бахаев. (Used with permission.)

Butterflies for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Children will have fun making these unique butterflies for mom or grandma for Mother’s Day. And these will be gifts that will always be cherished.

Here is a cute little card made from the handprints with a little poem:

This isn’t just a butterfly, as you can plainly see.
I made it with my hand, which is a part of me.
It comes with lots of love, especially to say
I hope you have a very
Happy Mother’s Day!

Click on the link for instructions on how to make this card:


Mom will love the framed butterfly footprints!


Another cute idea is to paint a pot and add a foot-print butterfly. Then plant some flowers inside the pot.




I love this idea using both handprints and footprints to make butterflies and flowers.

You can custom order this from My Forever Prints.


Here is a another little poem to go along with the butterfly prints.


These beautiful and colorful butterfly cards are fun for kids to paint and add a special artistic touch.

Click here for instructions on how to make these colorful butterflies:

A simple pop-up card with a lovely message will make any mother happy!

Find more Mother’s Day Cards at

Wishing all you mothers and grandmothers a wonderful Mother’s Day filled with butterflies!

To find more ideas for butterfly-themed arts and crafts for kids check out my Pinterest board at

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

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:


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:

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.

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

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 - - Infographic

Find many of these and other pollinator-friendly flowers at

Image courtesy