Butterfly Gardens …

In an Earth & Spirit Center Internship, you will have the opportunity to choose from a number of different projects that have the effect of building your skills and revitalizing local ecosystems.

One way to do this is to create a butterfly garden on the grounds of Earth & Spirit Center, and possibly encourage the use of butterfly gardens on campus and in residential plantings.

If you can master certain skills related to butterfly gardening, you will have a valuable skill set to carry into a number of different career positions, such as native plant nurseries, parks management and habitat restoration.

At the end of this message is a list of “recommended actions” for you to take, in order to pursue butterfly gardens as a project.

But first, here are two lists.

  • One is a list of “nectar flowers” for a butterfly garden. Those are the flowers from which the adult butterflies can drink the nectar.
  • The other is a list of “host plants”. Those are the plants on which the mother butterfly lays her eggs, because she knows that’s what the caterpillars can eat.

The following two lists are drawn from a book called The Life Cycles of Butterflies, by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards. It is available from the Louisville Free Public Library, or Amazon.com, in paperback or Kindle format.

Nectar Flowers …

  • Tall verbena
  • Coneflowers
  • Lantana
  • Butterfly bush
  • Milkweeds
  • Mexican sunflower
  • Tall garden phlox
  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnia
  • Cosmos
  • Sweet William
  • Egyptian starflower
  • Petunia

Host plants …

In the same volume, the authors list the following as their favorite “host plants”. A host plant to a butterfly is the plant where the mother lays her eggs, because that’s the only plant — or one of the few plants — that her caterpillars can eat.

  • Artemisia, host to American Lady
  • Asters, host to Pearl Crescent
  • Coneflowers, host to Silvery Checkerspot
  • Dill, host to Eastern Black Swallowtail
  • Elm trees, host to Question Mark
  • False nettle, host to Eastern Comma, Question Mark and Red Admiral.
  • Fennel, host to Eastern Black Swallowtail
  • Hollyhocks, host to Painted Lady
  • Hop vines, host to Eastern Comma, Question Mark
  • Milkweeds, host to Monarch, Queen
  • Passion vines, host to Gulf Fritillary, Variegated Fritillary, Zebra Longwing.
  • Paw paw tree, host to Zebra Swallowtail
  • Pipevine, host to Pipevine Swallowtail.
  • Plantain, host to Common Buckeye
  • Plantain-leaved pussytoes, host to American Lady
  • Prickly ash, host to Giant Swallowtail
  • Queen Anne’s Lace, host to Eastern Black Swallowtail
  • Rue, host to Giant Swallowtail
  • Snapdragon, host to Common Buckeye
  • Spicebush, host to Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Spider flower, host to Cabbage White
  • Sweet Bay Magnolia, host to Tiger Swallowtail.
  • Tulip poplar, host to Tiger Swallowtail.
  • Violets, host to Variegated Fritillary
  • White Clover, host to Clouded Sulphur
  • Willows, host to Red-spotted Purple and Viceroy.

Recommended actions …

If you would like to pursue “butterfly gardens” as a project, then consider the following actions …

  • Check out two or three books on butterfly gardening from a campus library or public library.
  • Study these books and develop your own lists of favorite butterflies, favorite host plants and favorite nectar plants.
  • Find and download images online of these butterflies and flowers, for use in a slideshow.
  • During the summer months, especially July and August, visit the following Louisville-area locations, to be able to take pictures of butterflies and the flowers that attract them: Idlewild Butterfly Farm, Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, the Parklands of Floyds Fork.
  • Share your photos and slides with fellow interns who have similar interests. Together, you can put together an impressive slideshow of butterflies, host plants and nectar plants.
  • Practice your slideshows and your presentations, so that your slideshow and presentation becomes a powerful educational tool and a powerful motivator for people considering planting butterfly gardens.

To ask questions, or get started on an Earth & Spirit Center Internship, email Hart at nhhagan@gmail.com.

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