It’s been so nice outside lately, and butterflies are finally coming out! I have reports from others in the lab that commas and mourning cloaks have been seen recently. I’m very excited for field and lab work to start this summer. Until I start getting lots of local butterflies, I’m trying to make sure I have enough food for larvae to eat. Because collecting plants last year turned out to be pretty hit or miss, and often a lot of work, this year I’m trying to grow nearly everything. I thought I would share some of the variety of plants that I’ve been growing to prepare for butterfly season.
Butterflies eat all kinds of things as larvae; some butterfly food doesn’t seem like it would be very pleasant, like the milk thistle I’m growing…
… or the stinging nettle.
Others are fun, like this FALSE stinging nettle, which I didn’t even know existed. It looks a lot like stinging nettle, and the same butterflies eat it, but it doesn’t sting!
I’m also growing blueberries, currants, gooseberries, apples and cherries (butterfly larvae love the leaves, but they don’t eat the fruit).
I’m actually growing more than 20 different kinds of plants to try to find the perfect food fora bunch of different butterfly species. I even have hops plants, which make the hops flowers used to flavor and bitter beer, and the leaves of which are eaten by a few different butterfly species.
Hopefully this summer, the butterflies will find that they have more than enough to eat with this smorgasbord of leafy delights!
Do you have any experience raising some rare plants so you can rear butterflies?