What should I plant to make a
Butterfly Garden?
  
Don Herbison-Evans,
( donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley & Helen Schwencke

There are two aspects to a butterfly garden:

1. attracting adult butterflies to breed, and
2. attracting adult butterflies to feed.


Caterpillar of Common Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina)

feeds on plants in ACANTHACEAE

Attracting Butterflies to breed

It is more useful to provide caterpillar host plants than to provide nectar plants for adults. There's a big difference between increasing the population of butterflies, and just feeding passing adults. Growing the host plants feeds the life cycle so you end up with more butterflies.

There are a few plant families that are foodplants of a number of Butterfly species, particularly

POACEAE
Grasses
Argynnina cyrila
Argynnina hobartia
Geitoneura acantha
Geitoneura klugii
Geitoneura minyas
Heteronympha merope
Heteronympha mirifica
Heteronympha paradelpha
Heteronympha penelope
Heteronympha solandri
Hypocysta adiante
Hypocysta angustata
Hypocysta euphemia
Hypocysta irius
Hypocysta metirius
Hypocysta pseudirius
Melanitis leda
Mycalesis perseus
Mycalesis sirius
Mycalesis terminus
Oreixenica correae
Oreixenica kershawi
Oreixenica lathoniella
Oreixenica latialis
Oreixenica orichora
Oreixenica ptunarra
Orsotriaena medus
Ypthima arctous

Anisynta cynone
Anisynta monticolae
Anisynta sphenosema
Anisynta tillyardi
Arrhenes dschilus
Croitana arenaria
Herimosa albovenata
Neohesperilla xanthomera
Neohesperilla xiphiphora
Ocybadistes flavovittata
Ocybadistes knightorum
Parnara amalia
Pasma tasmanicus
Pelopidas agna
Proeidosa polysema
Signeta flammeata
Suniana lascivia
Taractrocera anisomorpha
Telicota ancilla
Telicota brachydesma
Toxidia andersoni
Toxidia inornatus
Toxidia parvulus

CYPERACEAE
Reeds
Heteronympha banksii
Heteronympha cordace
Nesoxenica leprea
Tisiphone abeona
Tisiphone helena

Antipodia atralba
Antipodia chaostola
Hesperilla chrysotricha
Hesperilla crypsargyra
Hesperilla crypsigramma
Hesperilla donnysa
Hesperilla flavescens
Hesperilla furva
Hesperilla idothea
Hesperilla malindeva
Hesperilla mastersi
Hesperilla ornata
Hesperilla picta
Hesperilla sarnia
Hesperilla sexguttata
Motasingha trimaculata
Oreisplanus munionga
Oreisplanus perornata
Signeta tymbophora
Telicota eurotas

LORANTHACEAE
Mistletoes
Arhopala centaurus
Candalides gilberti
Candalides margarita
Erysichton palmyra
Hypochrysops digglesii
Hypochrysops narcissus
Hypolycaena phorbas
Ogyris abrota
Ogyris aenone
Ogyris amaryllis
Ogyris barnardi
Ogyris genoveva
Ogyris ianthis
Ogyris iphis
Ogyris olane
Ogyris oroetes
Ogyris zosine

Delias aganippe
Delias argenthona
Delias aruna
Delias ennia
Delias harpalyce
Delias mysis
Delias nigrina
Delias nysa

For other butterflies, you need native plants from a variety of other plant families.

Here are Helen Schwencke's Top 10 Butterfly plants:

Senna gaudichaudii
Climbing Senna
CAESALPINIACEAE
Catopsilia pyranthe (Yellow Migrant)
Eurema smilax (Small Grass-yellow)
Eurema hecabe (Large Grass-yellow)
Secamone elliptica
Corky Milk-vine
APOCYNACEAE
Euploea core (Common Crow)
Tirumala hamata (Blue Tiger)
Cullen tenax
Emu Foot
FABACEAE
Papilio demoleus (Chequered Swallowtail)
Zizina labradus (Common Grass-blue)
Lampides boeticus (Tailed Pea-blue)
Hygrophila angustifolia
Karamat
ACANTHACEAE
Junonia hedonia (Chocolate Argus)
Junonia villida (Meadow Argus)
Hypolimnas bolina (Varied Eggfly)
Zizula hylax (Dainty Grass-blue)
Pseuderanthemum variabile
Love Flower
ACANTHACEAE
Doleschallia bisaltide (Australian Leafwing)
Junonia orithya (Blue Argus)
Hypolimnas alimena (Bluebanded Eggfly)
Hypolimnas misippus (Danaid Eggfly)
Hypolimnas bolina (Varied Eggfly)
Cynanchum carnosum
Mangrove Wax-flower Vine
APOCYNACEAE
Danaus affinis (Swamp Tiger)
Danaus chrysippus (Lesser Wanderer)
Euploea core (Common Crow)
Pipturus argenteus
Native Mulberry
URTICACEAE
Mynes geoffroyi (Jezebel Nymph)
Catopyrops florinda (Speckled Line-blue)
Vanessa itea (Yellow Admiral)
Capparis lucida
Thornless Caper
CAPPERACEAE
Belenois java (Caper White)
Elodina parthia (Chalky Pearl-white)
Cepora perimale (Caper Gull)
Melodorum leichhardtii
Zig-zag Vine
ANNONACEAE
Protographium leosthenes (Four-barred Swordtail)
Graphium eurypylus (Pale Triangle)
Netrocoryne repanda (Eastern Dusk-flat
Citrus australasica
Finger Lime
RUTACEAE
Papilio aegeus (Orchard Swallowtail)
Papilio fuscus (Fuscous Swallowtail)
Papilio anactus (Dainty Swallowtail)

The caterpillars of some exotic butterfly species were already adapted to feed on exotic plants in our gardens, like


Danaus plexippus

Monarch
NYMPHALIDAE

Gomphocarpus fruticosus

Milkweed
APOCYNACEAE

Pieris rapae

Cabbage White
PIERIDAE

Tropaeolum majus

Nasturtiums
BRASSICACEAE

A few native Australian butterfly caterpillars have adapted to feeding on exotic plants in suburban gardens in Australia, including:


Citrus Butterfly
Papilio aegeus
,

Lemon Trees
Citrus limon

Dainty Swallowtail

Papilio anactus

Orange Trees
Citrus sinensis

Blue Triangle
Graphium sarpedon
,

Camphor Laurel
Cinnamomum camphora

Common Crow
Euploea core
,

Oleander
Nerium oleander
Leptotes plinius
Zebra Blue
Leptotes plinius

Plumbago
Plumbago auriculata

Pea Blue
Lampides boeticus

Spanish Broom
Spartium junceum

Grass Blue
Zizina labradus

White Clover
Trifolium repens


Further reading :

Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
Create More Butterflies,

Peter Valentine,
Gardening for Butterflies.

Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club
various booklets.


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(updated 29 November 2009, 5 November 2018)