Butterfly Gardening in Central Texas

Butterfly Gardening in Central Texas

Nectar Sources:
Nectar flowers for adults—The best nectar is obtained from flowers growing in a sunny location from healthy, well-watered plants. Often native plants produce the best nectar and should be planted in soil like they naturally grow in, in conditions that duplicate their natural preferences. Water perennial nectar sources in the winter if it doesn’t rain enough to insure ample nectar in the spring. Try to plant a variety of flowering plants, with the goal of keeping something in bloom as many months of the year as possible.Purple, pink, yellow, and white are the favorite colors of flowers to butterflies.

They seem to like blue or blue green the least. Some flowers have guide marks such as a dark streak at the base of the petals to guide the butterfly to the nectar source. Flowers also have odors that give information to the butterfly. If a flower has been pollinated, it may give off a different scent and the butterfly will know that the flower is now making fruit, not nectar and will avoid it. Overhead watering can often wash away nectar and make the flower useless to butterflies for several hours. Watering can also damage delicate wings. Try to always water from drip irrigation or soaker hoses.

Food Sources for adult butterflies:
Aster
Butterfly Bush
Clover
Echinacea
Goldenrod
Lantana
Marigold
Milkweed
Rotting fruit, sap
Thistle
Verbena
Vetch

Food recipe:
Combine 1 can beer, 1 lb brown sugar, ½ cup dark molasses, and some rotten fruit such as a blackened banana together. Mix together and add liquid to make it moist enough for the butterflies to be able to sip. Ferment in an open container for a day, then set outside for butterflies. You need to use a very shallow container. Keep in mind how small butterflies are and how short their legs are. Rotten fruit can also be placed around the garden, such as bananas, plums, persimmons, and watermelon. They also like crushed grapes and berries mixed with a little molasses and allowed to slightly ferment. They like it better with a little beer mixed in. Place in shallow dishes near the edge of the flower beds where escape from predators is easier.

Puddling:
Some butterflies, such as Tiger Swallowtails, like to sip from mud puddles. You can fill a shallow container such as a garbage can lid with a mixture of sand and mud. Sprinkle a little manure and salt over the top and place in a sunny area. You will have to moisten this frequently.

Shelter and Sun:
Butterflies need to warm their bodies in cooler weather. Provide a smooth stone in an open area for them to rest on while they sun themselves in the morning. Be sure it gets good morning light. Shelter can be provided by leaning some old boards against a fence, or by buying or making a butterfly house. A piece of shingle or cedar inside provides a perch. Keep in mind that butterfly larva do not always look like the picture in a field guide. This is because the caterpillars go through several stages of growth, and they may not look the same in each of these stages. Be patient and wait to see what occurs over time. You can learn a lot about these fascinating creatures through observation.

Butterflies Commonly Found in Central Texas:
Use this list to compare butterflies you have seen to those in field guides. Many butterflies look alike, but if the butterfly you have spotted is in this list, it’s likely to be the right one—
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius)
Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator)
Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius)
Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)
Cobweb Skipper (Hesperia metea)
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
Common Mestra (Mestra amymone)
Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus)
Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)
Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan)
Dotted Skipper (Hesperia attalus)
Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)
Dusky-blue Groundstreak (Calycopis isobeon)
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)
Falcate Orangetip (Anthocharis midea)
Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)
Funereal Duskywing (Erynnis funeralis)
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Goatweed Leafwing (Anaea andria)
Gorgone Checkerspot (Chlosyne gorgone)
Graphic Crescent (Phyciodes graphica)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)
Hayhurst’s Scallopwing (Staphylus hayhurstii)
Henry’s Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)
Juvenal’s Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis)
Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe)
Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela)
Little Yellow (Pyrisitia lisa)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Morning-glory Prominent (Schizura ipomoeae)
Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades)
Northern Sicklewing (Eantis tamenund)
Orange Skipperling (Copaeodes aurantiaca)
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)
Queen (Danaus gilippus)
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
Reakirt’s Blue (Echinargus isola)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)
Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis)
Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)
Southern Broken-Dash (Wallengrenia otho)
Southern Cloudywing (Thorybes bathyllus)
Southern Dogface (Zerene cesonia)
Southern Hairstreak (Satyrium favonius)
Southern Skipperling (Copaeodes minima)
Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)
Texan Crescent (Anthanassa texana)
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia)

Host Plants:
These are plants that butterflies use to lay their eggs on and to provide food for the caterpillars.
Alfalfa
Althea
Apple
Asclepias (milkweed)
Ash
Garden Beans
Beets
Bermuda
Blue Bonnets
Buckeye
Borage
Carrots
Clover
Catalpa
Cottonwood
Dill
Elm
Esperanza
False Nettle
Fennel
Hackberry
Holly
Hops
Ironwood
Lantana
Mallow
Mesquite and other
woody legumes
Mullein
Oak
Okra
Parsley
Passionvine
Peach
Pear
Peas
Pecan
Pipevine
Plum
Radish
Redbud
Snapdragon Vine
Sumac
Sunflower
St. Augustine
Texas Persimmon
Thistle
Wax Myrtle
Willow
Wooly Croton

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