Attract Caterpillars To Your Butterfly Garden
A butterfly garden that can attract caterpillars is known to have a higher density of butterflies in the long-term. Female butterflies are attracted to such gardens for laying their eggs, which in turn ensures the next generation of butterflies. Therefore, attracting caterpillars is just a way of ensuring that your garden is capable of attracting butterflies. The simplest way to attract caterpillars is by growing selective plants upon which caterpillars usually feed. These host plants add to the overall foliage of the garden and serve the critical purpose of serving as caterpillar nurseries.
What Plants Attract Caterpillars?
There are many species of caterpillars having very particular plant requirements, such as:
- Monarch caterpillars will primarily feed on milkweeds (Asclepias)
- Milbert's Tortoiseshell caterpillars feed only upon Urtica
- Eastern Tailed-blue caterpillar are specific eaters of Clover (the Trifolium plant)
- American Copper larvae need a regular dosage of sorrels (Rumex)
- Spring Azure caterpillars are attracted to dogwoods, i.e. Cornus plant and local blueberries, i.e. the Vaccinium plant
- Cabbage White caterpillar specifically needs plants of the mustard family like nasturtium
Caterpillar Host Plants
Caterpillars aren't very fond of ornamental shrubs that are commonly found in gardens. Instead, they need slightly woody or even weedy plants. Clovers, Urtica and Plantago are actually slow-growing, unwanted weedy plants found in most gardens. They are usually removed by gardeners. However, to sustain the caterpillar population, a small number of these plants should be left. Another common plant that has traditionally attracted caterpillars is the green bean. It is a favorite for the Gray Hairstreak caterpillar and the long-tailed Skipper caterpillar.