Have you noticed the beautiful butterflies lately as we near the end of summer? My husband and I intentionally planted a butterfly garden in 1996 and have continued to monitor the butterfly count over the years. There are 160 species of butterflies in Georgia, of which we have recorded 50 species in our Morningside neighborhood. Unfortunately, numbers are down due to habitat loss and pesticides.
To attract butterflies to your yard, you need the host plant and a nectar source. Perhaps you have seen the beautiful black and yellow butterfly (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail) fluttering about. It is Georgia’s state butterfly. One of the host plants for it in the garden is the Tulip Poplar tree, where it lays its eggs. This butterfly likes to nectar on our flowering Lantana. What most people don’t know about this beautiful butterfly is that there are two female forms in the Southeast. One is yellow, and the other female form is black. In the Northeast, there is only the yellow female form.
This is the first time in two years we have seen the Black Swallowtail lay eggs on our parsley. The host plant for this butterfly is anything in the carrot family, such as fennel, parsley, and cumin. We were able to photograph the beautiful caterpillar on the parsley.
The other colorful butterfly in my garden is the gulf fritillary. Julie Simon gave me a small start of her passion flower vine this past spring. It is their host plant. It grew profusely, and I now have three orange caterpillars on it. This is the bright orange butterfly we are seeing right now. It likes to nectar on my purple ageratum.
I hope to see monarch butterflies collect nectar on my Ryan’s daisies in a few weeks as they migrate south. I have planted some swamp milkweed for their host plant next spring.
Gardening for butterflies is rewarding and helps increase the butterfly population. Give it a try!
• • •
JOURNEY WITH US: The Climate Action Team is for you. Yes, you. Because you want to act on your love for the planet and because you need caring companions as you navigate these changing times. Learn all about the group here, and check out our lending library and Carbon Offset Fund. You can also request to join the Climate Action Team on Realm. Contact Jon Reese to connect to the CAT and join us for our next meeting in person on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 1:30 PM in the church sanctuary.