How to Feed a Caterpillar

Butterflies lay their eggs on very specific plants. Get a list of caterpillar host plants for your garden!
Plant it and they will come!
As the weather warms, the flying critters emerge from their winter homes looking for food and a place to nest or lay their eggs. I spotted the first butterfly of the season flitting about my broccoli. She was looking for a suitable home to lay her eggs. Being the good mom that she is, she knew that broccoli was on the list of desirable foods for her little hatchlings.
And lay some eggs she did!
We’ve all been hearing about the plight of the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. We know that if the pollinators disappear, we will eventually follow. The pollinators–the good, the bad, and the ugly–are all absolutely necessary for our food production. So in order for us to save ourselves, we need to be saving the pollinators by providing food, shelter, water, and the right plants for them to reproduce. Yes, that means some nibbled leaves in your garden.
The flowering plants in our gardens–provided that they are not sprayed with pesticides–usually produce the nectar needed for butterflies and many of the other pollinators’ diets. The same plants can provide shelter, but what about the plants that are needed for rearing their young? These plants are called host or larval plants. These are the plants that the caterpillars will eat–usually the leaves but occasionally the flowering parts–as they grow to become the adult version that performs the important job of pollination.
Most butterflies are very particular about what plants will be suitable for their young. By becoming familiar with the common butterflies in your area, you can then provide the right host plants. Keep in mind, that these insects and their host plants have evolved together throughout time. The plants will be eaten…count on it…celebrate it…but most plants will survive to grow more leaves.
I have compiled a list of many of the common butterflies that can be found throughout the United States and their host plants. To print your copy, visit the website. If you study the list closely, you will see that many of our “weeds” serve a very important role. The weeds of the world are not there just to aggravate the heck out of gardeners!
For a list of caterpillar food plants that you can print out or download and additional tips, please see the website!

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1 comment
  • Hannah V
    on Apr 14, 2015

    Aw I would love to have butterflies in my backyard, but I don't know if they would like living in Brooklyn ;D

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