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 Great Spangled Fritillary

(photograph courtesy of Sue Auerbach)


A few interesting facts and observations about butterflies:

  • As with owls and hawks, the greatest threat to butterflies is loss of habitat.
  • The relationship between butterflies and plants is the ecological relationship on which our survival depends.
  • A butterfly gardener is an agent for positive ecological change.
  • Invertebrates make up over 95% of all animal life on earth, and the majority of animal mass.
  • On average, each native plant has over 20 invertebrate associates.
  • There are more than 5,000 species native bees in the U.S., most of which do not sting.
  • The secret to butterfly gardening is to grow plants that feed both butterflies and their larvae.
  • Butterflies have been called the "flowers of the air."
  • Butterflies live in four stages - egg, larva, pupa, and butterfly - from a few weeks to many years. Some live their lives within a small area, and some migrate thousands of miles.
  • Butterflies hibernate - suspend development - in different stages for different periods.
  • Butterflies lay hundred of eggs, but a balanced environment results in zero population growth.
  • With butterfly gardens, bigger is better. Butterflies are nearsighted and see masses of flowers more easily than single flowers, and large areas are more likely to provide necessary "biota bridges" - connections between isolated habitats.
20 Common North American Butterflies
Butterflies Selected Illinois Food Plants Selected Illinois Nectar Preferences

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail The
 Swallowtails

 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(photo courtesy of Rich Famularo)

Eastern Black Swallowtail Queen Anne's Lace, Cultivated Carrot, Celery, Parsley, Dill Milkweed, Thistle, Phlox, Clover, Alfalfa, Purple Loosestrife
Tiger Swallowtail Cherry, Ash, Birch, Cottonwood, Willow, Lilac Thistle, Milkweed, Phlox, Joe Pye Weed, Clover, Bee Balm, Sunflower

Cabbagge White The Sulfurs
 and Whites

 Cabbage White
(photo courtesy of Sue Auerbach)

Cabbage White Cabbage, Collards, Broccoli, Mustard, Nasturtium Mustard, Cress, Red Clover, Milkweed, Aster, Bergamot
Common Sulfur White Clover, Vetch, Alfalfa, White Sweet Clover Clovers, Goldenrod, Aster, Milkweed, Phlox, Knapweed
Alfalfa Butterfly Alfalfa, White Clover, White Sweet Clover, Vetch, Crown Vetch, Wild Indigo Alfalfa, Clovers, Thistle, Aster, Goldenrod, Milkweed, Dandelion

Monarch The Brush Footed
 Butterflies

 Monarch
(photo courtesy of Ho Min Lim)

Monarch Milkweeds Milkweeds, Goldenrod, Joe Pye Weed, Thistle, Cosmos, Gayfeather, Lilac, Lantana
Pearly Crescentspot Various Asters Aster, Thistle, Black Eyed Susan, Fleabane, Milkweed
American Painted Lady Everlastings, Pussy Toes, Burdock, Ironweed Thistle, Knapweed, Aster, Yarrows, Goldenrod, Red Clover, Marigold, Zinnia, Milkweed, Heliotrope
Comma Nettles, Elms Rotting Fruit, Sap, Stonecrop, Dandelion
Great Spangled Fritillary Violets Thistle, Joe Pye Weed, Black Eyed Susan, Milkweed, Coneflowers, Bergamot, Ironweed
Hackberry Butterfly Hackberry Rotting Fruit, Sap, Dung, Carrion, Milkweed
Mourning Cloak Willow, Elm, Poplar, Birch, Hackberry Rotting Fruit, Sap, Shasta Daisy, Milkweed
Painted Lady Thistle, Knapweed, Burdock, Borage, Hollyhock, Common Mallow Thistle, Dandelion, Aster, Joe Pye Weed, Gayfeather, Zinnia, Cosmos, Bee Balm, Sweet William, Stonecrop, Milkweed
Red Admiral Nettles Rotting Fruit, Sap, Aster, Thistle, Dandelion, Red Clover, Goldenrod, Shasta Daisy, Gayfeather, Dahlia, Ageratum, Stonecrop, Mint
Redspotted Purple Willow, Poplar, Plum, Cherry, Oak, Apple, Hawthorn Rotting Fruit, Sap, Dung, Carrion, Spiraea, Privet, Cardinal Flowers
Viceroy Willow, Poplar, Plum, Apple, Cherry Rotting Fruit, Sap, Dung, Thistle, Joe Pye Weed, Aster, Goldenrod, Milkweed

Banded Hairstreak The
 Gossamer Wings

 Banded Hairstreak
(photo courtesy of Sue Auerbach)

Spring Azure Dogwood, Viburnum, Cherry, Sumac, Black Snakeroot Milkweed, Dandelion, Violet, Forget-Me-Not
Gray Hairstreak Clover, Mallow, Mint, Hibiscus, Corn, Oak Milkweed, Goldenrod, Mint, White Sweet Clover, Sweet Pea, Queen Anne's Lace

Least Skipper The
 Skippers

 Least Skipper
(photo courtesy of Ho Min Lim)

Silverspotted Skipper Honey Locust, Black Locust, Bean Thistle, Joe Pye Weed, Red Clover, Gayfeather, Zinnia
Checkered Skipper Mallow, Hollyhock, Hibiscus Aster, Knapweed, Fleabane, Red Clover

Adapted from: Tekulsky, M. 1985. The butterfly garden.
Harvard Common Press, Harvard, Mass.
Courtesy of Rex A. Bastian, Ph.D.

 

 

© Riverwoods Preservation Council- - Page last updated: December 2009