Caterpillars, the larval form of butterflies, are voracious but picky eaters. In fact, many caterpillars are adapted to eat only one or two types of plants. While butterflies are drawn to nectar flowers, caterpillars are attracted to the leaves of certain plants. Adult butterflies lay eggs on the leaves of host plants to provide newly hatched caterpillars with an immediate food source. Although some larval host plants are rather weedy, many produce colorful flowers and are suitable for any natural garden setting.
Native to the western United States, wild buckwheats (Eriogonum) are a group of shrubby, drought-tolerant perennials. These plants produce multiple clusters of small flowers and are often used for dried floral arrangements. Flower in yellow, pink and grayish-white turn brown in the fall and remain on the plant throughout the winter. These plants grow in U. S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5b to 10b. Wild buckwheat serves as a caterpillar host plant for several species of butterflies, including the Mormon metalmark (Apodemia mormo), the bramble green hairstreak (Callophrys dumetorum), the common hairstreak (Strymon melinus) and various types of coppers and blues.
Wild lilacs (Ceanothus) are sun-loving, drought-resistant plants with flowers in all shades of blue, including deep indigo, cobalt, violet and pale powder blue. These evergreen shrubs range from small, ground-hugging species to large shrubs more than 10 feet tall. Wild lilacs are larval host plants for the pale swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) and California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica) buterflies. This plant also provides caterpillar food for various types of duskywings, hairstreaks and blues, including the California hairstreak (Satyrium californica), echo blue (Celastrina ladon echo) and Grinnell’s duskywing (Erynnis pacuvius). Depending on the species, wild lilac grows in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 11.
The monkey flower (Mimulus or Diplacus aurantiacus) is a woody perennial that grows 1 to 4 feet tall with sticky, dark green leaves and bright yellow, orange or red flowers. The monkey flower is native to California and Oregon and grows in USDA zones 6a to 10b, depending on the type. Monkey flower plants prefer well-drained soil and grow in full sun to part shade. Both the buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) and Chalcedon checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona) use the monkey flower as a larval host plant.
Milkweeds (Asclepias) are a group of wildflowers that bear clusters of star-shaped flowers on stiff, woody stems. Flowers generally bloom in summer in yellow, orange, pink and white. These plants contain a bitter milky sap that is toxic to livestock. Ingesting the bitter sap of the milkweed makes caterpillars unpalatable to predators. Milkweeds are an important larval food for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and also serve as host plants for the striated queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus). This hardy perennial typically reaches 2 to 4 feet tall and grows in USDA hardiness zones 3a to 9b.
--Advertisements-- Handheld Pump Pressure Water Sprayer www.tagreat.com Easy grip handles and triggers for homeowners big and small. Lightweight and versatile, the Sprayer is ideal for general spraying both indoors and out: weed control, gardening, auto, general cleaning, and many more other applications.