We attract many types of butterflies to our backyard because we have brought in their host plants. The host plant is the specific type of plant that a butterfly will look for to lay eggs because that plant will be the only food source that the caterpillars will eat. Each species of butterflies requires its own host plant. Here is some information about host plants and butterflies: We grow three types of milkweed for the monarchs; dill, parsley, and Queen Anne's Lace for the black swallowtails; Pennsylvania pellitory (a weed that was in my yard long before I ever moved in) for the red admirals; elm (newly sprouted elm saplings are favored!) for question marks; white prairie clover for sulphurs; a star magnolia and tulip tree (I planted a sapling that I found in my neighbor's yard.) for the tiger swallowtails; and turtlehead for the Baltimore checkerspot (I've never seen one, but I am hoping!).
Because only a small fraction of butterfly eggs survives, we bring many eggs into our back porch and care for them. After they hatch, we supply the caterpillars with their food source and watch them grow. The next step, of course, is to release the beautiful butterflies! TOP: Newborn black swallowtail butterfly dries on our marigolds. MIDDLE: My son prepares to release a brand-new red admiral. BOTTOM: A tiger swallowtail feasts on the many butterfly bushes we have in our yard.
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