Every August I look forward to the butterfly show. There is often a new big hatch of butterflies of all kinds in August. The new insects have brilliant wing color and float through the gardens like a parade. They are looking for nectar plants for a meal and host plants on which they will lay more eggs. If you can offer them their favorite host plants you can encourage more and more of these beautiful insects. Keep in mind that the caterpillars will eat the host plants, so plant plenty or hide them behind other nectar plants if you are worried about the tattered leaves.
Red Admiral Butterflies like a nettle that really looks like a weed! I leave a patch under a shrub in my garden so it is available but I don’t have to look at it. I know the butterflies are around when the top of each plant withers into a brown mess. This means the caterpillars are eating their way into the next phase of their lives!
Monarchs love Milkweed! Any kind of milkweed will do. There are many kinds from which to choose. Next year I plan on planting some Asclepias Curassavica – an annual, non-native plant that has bi-color flowers loaded with nectar. This plant has actually helped raise the Monarch population numbers by supporting local Monarchs and allowing them to reproduce effectively. Check out monarchbutterflygardening.net for more information on creating gardens for Monarchs.