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This site was created mostly to help spread information about butterfly gardening and conservation. I am also interested in gardening to attract other types of wildlife, and will eventually add more about this to the site.

Butterfly gardening consists of growing plants that butterflies need to stay alive. The types of plants needed are generally divided into two broad categories - host plants and nectar plants.

Host plants and nectar plants

Host Plants

Butterflies are insects, and like many other insects they have a larval stage. In butterflies the larval stage is commonly known as a caterpillar. Host plants are the plants that the female adult butterflies lay their eggs on and that the caterpillars eat. If the host plants are not available they will not have a place to lay their eggs, and there will be less butterflies. If a caterpillar eats all of a host plant it is on, and it can't find another one, it will die. If the natural habitat for a particular host plant is destroyed, eliminating all places for the butterfly to lay its eggs, the butterfly species will become extinct (along with the host plant species).

Nectar Plants

Most adult butterflies sip flower nectar as a food source, these plants are the nectar plants. While some butterflies have certain flower preferences, they aren't in general too picky about which flowers they like. Although, they do tend to like flowers made up of lots of smaller flowers. And some more commercially bred flowers they don't like very much because they have been bred to look a certain way (for people) and in the process the flowers no longer make nectar that appeals to butterflies, or make very little. Petunias are a good example of this, most butterflies are not interested in them. (The wild native petunia is good to grow though.)

Some adult butterflies prefer rotten fruit, carrion or animal dung rather that flower nectar. This doesn't involve gardening, but many people interested in butterflies will leave out rotting fruit for them, such as bananas.

Caterpillars and plants

While there are many books and other resources available to learn about butterfly gardening I have noticed that most are lacking two important pieces of information.

Some host plants are difficult to find, as most typical nurseries don't sell them. When I first started to make a butterfly garden I almost gave up because I couldn't find the plants I needed for it.

The other piece of information missing is adequate information about caterpillars. Most books if they include pictures of caterpillars at all, tend to only have pictures of nearly full grown caterpillars. Many of them look very different when smaller than they do when they are larger.

On this site I will include any information I can find about where you can buy the necessary plants and how to propagate them. I have also been raising as many butterfly species as I can and taking pictures of them at different stages, to include on the site. Hopefully having these two types of information on the site will make it easier for people to start their own butterfly gardens.

Butterflies included on this site

I live in the St. Louis, Missouri, USA area so most of the butterfly information on this site will be about butterflies that live in this area. I do not currently have a way to raise butterflies not native to this area, as it is against USDA regulations to ship insects (including eggs and larva) over state lines. Many of the butterflies native to my area also live in many other parts of North America however, so much of the information will be valuable to people across the US and Canada.

I hope to someday include information about other species on this site. To have pictures of these butterflies I will either need to get pictures from people living elsewhere or come up with some way to get them myself.

Organization of site

The main parts of this site are the butterfly and plant sections. The butterflies are divided into categories based on their species families and subfamilies. The ones currently listed are those found in my part of Missouri, even if only rare strays. I may eventually expand to all N. American butterflies.

The plants are divided into host and nectar plants. Each butterfly and plant species has its own page on the site.

Other sections include this one, with various articles concerning butterflies and conservation; the Resources section with links to further information; and a blog to document butterfly sightings and the progress of this site. Eventually I hope to add a section about attracting other types of wildlife.

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