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Types of Plants Butterflies Need

Host Plants and Nectar Plants – Both are Needed to Support Butterflies Throughout Their Life Cycle

Butterflies prefer a sunny location and to be sheltered from the wind. South Florida butterflies are found all over from mangroves to the Everglades to relatively suburban areas. Wherever butterflies live, they need plants to provide a nectar source for adult butterflies and host plants to provide a food source for caterpillars. By having both plant types, you’ll have more butterflies and they will stick around longer as the butterflies will have a food source throughout all stages of their life cycle.

What are nectar plants?

Nectar plants are colorful plants with flowers that attract butterflies to your garden.

The nectar provides food and nutrition for butterflies.

When nectar plants are grouped together, butterflies can locate their food source from a distance. Some nectar plants that are favorites to many different types of butterflies include Coneflower, Tickseed, Butterfly Bush, Lantana, and Salvia.

What are host plants?

Host plants are the critical food source that caterpillars live on.

When it comes time for butterflies to lay their eggs, the eggs must be on or near a host plant that will be eaten by the small, emerging caterpillars.

Adult butterflies will seek out these plants to lay their eggs on because they know that the caterpillar cannot travel far and will not survive if placed on a plant that they cannot eat.

Each type of butterfly has a specific host plant(s).

Source: NABA; Broward County Butterfly Chapter

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