Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Butterfly

Pictorial Guide to Butterflies in Eastern Gardens – and the Plants Where They Lay Their Eggs

This summer, I have had the privilege of watching the Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle in my garden, and I have done some research into the other types of butterflies that I might attract to might garden.  This is not all of the butterflies that visit New Jersey Gardens, but it is a list of butterflies that I want to try to attract and watch reproduce in my garden.

Black Swallowtail Male Butterfly [above]

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Female [above]

Size of Black Swallowtail Butterflies: 3.25″ – 4.25″

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Image result for black swallowtail chrysalis

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Chrysalis

Black Swallow Tail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Dill

Black Swallow Tail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Fennel

Black Swallow Tail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Parsley

Black Swallow Tail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Queen Anne’s Lace

Black Swallow Tail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Common Rue – Ruta graveolans

Eastern Comma Butterfly or Hop Merchant [above]

Size of Eastern Comma Butterflies: Wing Span: 1 3/4 – 2 1/2 inches (4.5 – 6.4 cm) [Small]

Eastern Comma or Hop Merchant Butterfly Caterpillar

Eastern Comma Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Hops [Hops is also necessary to make beer]

Eastern Tail-Blue Butterfly [above]

Size of the Eastern Tail-Blue Butterfly: Wing Span: 7/8 – 1 1/8 inches (2.2 – 2.9 cm) [Very Small]

Eastern Tail-Blued Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Peas

EasternTiger Swallow Tail Butterfly [above]

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Magnolia Trees

 Size of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly: Wing Span: 2 1/2 – 4 1/2 inches (6.2 – 11.4 cm)

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly [above]

Gray Hairstreak Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Hollyhock

Gray Hairstreak Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on High Mallow or Zebra Mallow

Gray Hairstreak Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Peas

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly [above]

Size of the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly: Wing Span: 4 – 6 1/4 inches (10.2 – 16 cm)

Giant Swallow Tail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Common Rue – Ruta graveolans

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly [above]

Size of the Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly: Wing Span: 2 1/2 – 4 inches (6.3 – 10.1 cm)

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Violets [above]

Monarch Butterfly [above]

Size of the Monarch Butterfly: Wing Span: 3 3/8 – 4 7/8 inches (8.6 – 12.4 cm)

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis

Monarch Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Milkweed Plants

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Size of the Mourning Cloak Butterfly: Wing Span: 2 1/4 – 4 inches (5.7 – 10.1 cm)

Mourning Cloak Butterfly Caterpillar

Mourning Cloak Butterflies Lay Their Eggs in Willows

Pearl Crescent Butterfly [above]

Pearl Crescent Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Asters

Asters are the primary nectar-producing flowers in my fall garden. In order to have a butterfly garden, it is essential to have nectar-producing flowers for at least 3 seasons each year.

Red-banded Hairstreak Butterfly

Red-banded Hairstreak Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Winged Sumac

Red-spotted Purple Butterfly [above]

Size of the Red-spotted Purple Butterfly: Wing Span: 2 1/4 – 4 inches (5.7 – 10.1 cm)

Image result for red spotted purple caterpillar

Red-spotted Butterfly Caterpillar

Red-spotted Purple Butterflies Lay Their Eggs in Willows

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly [above]

Size of the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly: Wing Span: 3 – 4 inches (7.5 – 10 cm)

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

Spicebush Swallow Tail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Lilacs

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Spicebushes

Spring Azure Butterfly [above]

Spring Azure Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Blueberry Bushes

Summer Azure Butterfly [above]

Related image

Summer Azure Butterflies Lay Their Eggs on Dogwood Shrubs

Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood Cornus sericea “Cardinal Grows 10′ x 10′

In my garden, I grow Cardinal Red Twig Dogwoods, which are great for winter gardens, too.

©Jacki Kellum September 11, 2011

 

 

 

How to Turn Your Garden Into a Breeding Spot for Monarch Butterflies – Free Plan for a Butterfly Garden – Free 3-Season Flower Garden Plan

Monarch butterflies are among the most fascinating of nature’s creatures. Yet, because of climate change, global warming, excessive use of herbicides, and illegal logging in Mexico, the monarch butterfly population is declining. Over this past summer, I have realized that I can harness my efforts in my New Jersey garden to help increase the monarch population, and in this article, I want to share what I have learned about butterfly gardening, and I will outline how other people  can turn your their own gardens into monarch breeding grounds, too.

My garden is a heavily planted Cottage Garden, which is a natural-looking, free-form style of gardening. While cottage gardens might make those who prefer formal gardens shudder, cottage gardening has been around at least since the Renaissance, and cottage gardens are ideal for doubling as butterfly breeding grounds.

Which Comes First, the Butterfly or the Egg?

Many people know that monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants, and they might assume that if they simply buy a milkweed plant, they will have turned their garden into a monarch breeding habitat. But that is not entirely true.

Step 1: Begin with a Garden that is Filled with Nectar-Rich Flowers

It is true that milkweed plants are the essential food for monarch caterpillars, but adult monarchs are initially attracted to a spot that is filled with nectar-producing flowers. When it is time for a monarch mother to lay her eggs, she will only lay them on milkweed plants, but the rest of the time, adult monarchs need flowers that are rich with nectar.

Butterflies love to sip from butterfly bushes, and I always have a butterfly bush in my garden, and I also have a Chaste tree, which is like a large and prolific butterfly bush that has clusters of blue flowers.

Butterflies also love to sip the nectar of coneflowers or echinacea. At the end of the post, I’ll include a plan that names the plants needed for a Butterfly Garden. In the following video, you see bees sipping nectar from the zinnias that are blooming next to one of my milkweed plants

Step 2: Be Sure that Your Garden Has Flowering Plants for at Least 3 Seasons

In a cottage garden, a large variety of plants are crowded together and are allowed to grow as naturally and as freely as possible. Vegetable and flowers are often grown side by side, and because the flowering plants are close to each other, pollination is simple. In my cottage garden, something is blooming almost all year long, and because butterflies breed and produce caterpillars several times during the gardening season, they require nectar-producing flowers as long as nature will permit. At the end of the post, I’ll also include a 3-Season Flower Garden Plan.

Step 3:  Be Sure that There Are Plenty of Milkweed Plants in Your Garden.

I Grow Several Types of Milkweed

Swamp Milkweed is a hardy perennial in most garden zones, and you can plant it in your garden and leave it there over winter. I have the Incarta variety of swamp milkweed [above photo], and it is pink. Another variety of swamp milkweed is more purplish.

North America’s native milkweed crops are not as prolific as they once were.

 

Monarch caterpillars must eat milkweed leaves and by the time that the season’s final generation of butterflies are hatched, my first milkweed plants were no longer blooming. The caterpillars don’t need the blooms. They only eat the milkweed plant’s leaves. During the winter, I will bring my tropical milkweed plants inside, and will take cuttings from them to create new milkweed plants. In order to stagger the blooming season of my milkweed, I will try to stagger the starting time of the new milkweed plants.  If I have milkweed blooming over an extended period of time, I have the milkweed nectar to attract the adult butterflies to a plant that will also be an appropriate place to lay their eggs, but it is more important to have milkweed leaves for the caterpillars.

 I also grow tropical milkweed in planters that I take inside for the winter.

Early in the spring, I bought a tropical milkweed plant. The plant was about 3’tall, and it was already blooming, and I paid $30.00 for it.  The cost of the plant almost scared me away.

Image result for hummingbird tropical milkweed

For the first month or two, I only noticed hummingbirds and bees feeding from my tropical milkweed plant, but late in July, I began to notice that monarchs were hanging around, too. I never saw many monarchs assembled together, and they never hovered very long.  In fact, I was disappointed by my monarch community, and I simply gave up on the idea of butterfly gardening and quit watching my milkweed plant.

By the end of August, however, I noticed that my milkweed seemed to be dying. It had lost most of its leaves, and then I spotted my first monarch caterpillar.

Step 4: Be Sure That You Have Water for Your Adult Monarchs to Drink

In the preceding video, you see caterpillars in my garden and also a monarch chrysallis that has formed.

Before they enter the chrysalis stage, the monarch Bbutterfly caterpillars suspend themselves upside down from a silken cable that they spin

On September 3, 2017, I noticed that one of the caterpillars had moved into the hanging, J-like position. On Septer 5, 2017, that caterpillar was encased in his chrysalis.

Monarchs mate several times each summer, and they normally live from two to six weeks. However, the last of the season’s butterflies are born stronger, and they live long enough to migrate thousands of miles to Mexico, where they spend their winters. Although milkweed has been in my yard all summer, it appears that the butterflies did not reproduce in my garden until the last of the season’s matings. By that time, the milkweed blooms were gone, and I only had milkweed leaves. My main nectar-producing flowers in late autumn are asters, zinnias, and perennial cranesbill geraniums. To effectively breed monarch butterflies, you will need to plant a 3-season garden that is filled with the kinds of flowers that butterlies like and you will also need plenty of milkweed leaves all season long.

©Jacki Kellum September 10, 2017

Better Homes and Gardens provides free garden plans, check out their plans for a butterfly garden and for a 3-season garden.

Free Butterfly Garden Plan from bhg.com

You don’t have to follow this exact plan, but if you grow these plants in your garden and if you plant them closely, you will have butterflies.

Notice that the plan calls for a water source. I have several birdbaths and a pond in my garden. The butterflies frequent my birdbaths more than the birds.

This plan calls for Butterfly Weed, which is not the same thing as Tropical Milkweed. I suggest planting Butterfly Weed and buying a Tropical Milkweed, too. The Butterfly Weed is hardy, but the Tropical Milkweed will not withstand winters in most of the USA.

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Free Butterfly Garden Plan from bhg.com

You don’t have to follow this exact plan, but if you grow these plants in your garden and if you plant them closely, you will have butterflies.

Notice that the plan calls for a water source. I have several birdbaths and a pond in my garden. The butterflies frequent my birdbaths more than the birds.

 

How I Turned My Garden Into a Breeding Spot for Monarch Butterflies – Free Plan for a Butterfly Garden

For years, I have had a healthy community of butterflies in my garden, but I haven’t seen many monarch butterflies before, and until this year, I have not had the pleasure of following the monarch breeding cycle.

I’ve learned that in order to attract many butterflies, we must be sure that we are growing plenty of the types of flowering plants that produce nectar. At the bottom of this post, you will find a free butterfly garden plan. Butterflies love to sip from butterfly bushes, and I always have a butterfly bush and a Chaste tree, which is like a large and prolific butterfly bush.

I have a cottage garden, and I plant my flowers tightly. I like the natural kind of color explosion that I get from that type f planting, and close planting is also the best way to assure pollination.

I plan my garden so that there is almost always something blooming in my yard. For many years, this approach to gardening has attracted a large number of butterflies to my yard, but this year, I went the extra mile, hoping to attract more monarchs and also hoping that  I would be able to encourage them to breed in my garden. I have never witnessed the monarch growth cycle first hand, and curiosity was part of my incentive, but I am also aware that the number of monarch breeding places has radically diminished. I have a large flower garden anyway, and I felt that I had an ecological duty to help the monarchs, if I could.

Early in the spring, I bought a tropical milkweed plant. The plant was about 3’tall, and it was already blooming, and I paid $30.00 for it.  The cost of the plant almost scared me away.

Image result for hummingbird tropical milkweed

For the first month or two, I only noticed hummingbirds and bees feeding from my tropical milkweed plant, but late in July, I began to notice that monarchs were hanging around, too. I never saw many monarchs assembled together, and they never hovered very long.  In fact, I was disappointed by my monarch community, and I simply gave up on the idea of butterfly gardening and quit watching my milkweed plant.

By the end of August, however, I noticed that my milkweed seemed to be dying. It had lost most of its leaves, and then I spotted my first monarch caterpillar.

On September 3, 2017, I noticed that one of the caterpillars had moved into the hanging position that I suspect will precede its cocoon stage.

I deliberately kept my tropical milkweed in a large planter, and I plan to move the plant into my sunroom next month.  If the plant survives, I’ll take cuttings in the winter and next year, I’ll have several plants to offer mama monarchs.  The beauty of that plan is that I’ll have several plants without spending another $30.00 for each one.  Now that I am convinced that monarchs wont breed in my yard without milkweed, however, I eagerly say that $30.00 wasn’t very much to spend for this opportunity to watch nature unfold. Young art students come to my house each week, and this year, we’ll take advantage of this priceless opportunity to draw the monarch growth cycle from natural and direct observation.

If you look carefully at the long, green leaves, you will see where the caterpillars have been munching.

Free Butterfly Garden Plan from bhg.com

You don’t have to follow this exact plan, but if you grow these plants in your garden and if you plant them closely, you will have butterflies.

Notice that the plan calls for a water source. I have several birdbaths and a pond in my garden. The butterflies frequent my birdbaths more than the birds.

This plan calls for Butterfly Weed, which is not the same thing as Tropical Milkweed. I suggest planting Butterfly Weed and buying a Tropical Milkweed, too. The Butterfly Weed is hardy, but the Tropical Milkweed will not withstand winters in most of the USA.

©Jacki Kellum September 3, 2017

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