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  • Writer's pictureJeanne McRight

Butterfly host plants

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

by Jeanne McRight

Pollinator gardens not only can provide nectar for butterflies and other insects, but also will help to support the caterpillar stage of butterflies and moths if you add their native host plants.

Native host plants are the plants where butterflies and moths lay their eggs. They’re important because those plants are what a new caterpillar will start to eat after it has hatched.

Common butterfly native host plants for southern Ontario

  • American Painted Lady: pussytoes, pearly everlasting

  • Black Swallowtail: golden alexanders, as well as non-native dill, parsley, fennel

  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail: birches, willows, ashes, prunus species

  • Red Admiral, Question Mark: nettles, elms, hops, hackberries

  • Admiral, White – birches, willows, poplars, hawthorns

  • Azure, Lucia – dogwoods, viburnums, blueberries, meadowsweets

  • Blue, Silvery – lupines, vetches

  • Brown, Eyed – sedges

  • Fritillary, Great Spangled – violets

  • Hairstreak, Banded – oaks, walnuts, hickories

  • Monarch – milkweeds

  • Mourning Cloak – willows, meadowsweets, elm, poplar

  • Skipper, European – timothy

  • Skipper, Peck’s – grasses

  • Skipper, Least – grasses

  • Sulphur, Common – clovers, alfalfa

  • Sulphur, Orange – alfalfa, clovers

  • Tortoiseshell, Compton’s – birches, willows

  • Viceroy – willows, poplars, apples, prunus sp.

  • White, Cabbage – mustards, brassicas, nasturtiums

  • Wood Nymph, Large – grasses



Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) The BAMONA project aims to serve as a one-stop database of butterfly and moth data that scientists can use to form or to address research questions. While it is a collaborative effort between individuals with varying levels of knowledge and experience with Lepidoptera, contributors share a common goal of assembling high quality data on butterfly and moth distribution.


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