Butterflies and caterpillars

anfun(7)March 27, 2012

I have been wondering when people try to attract butterflies to their garden, what do they do with the caterpillars that eats up the garden afterwards. Last years I had so many of the orange and black ones in my front patch they still give me goosebumps!

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One more thing, are there plants that attract hummingbirds BUT NOT butterflies, or better yet, REPELS butterflies? Mostly from plant introduction, hummingbirds and butterflies always go hand in hand.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:53AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Not all plants are common host plants for butterflies or moths (on which to lay eggs), but are still favorite nectar providers. I plant my flower gardens with those plants in mind. Since the bird activity is so heavy around here, I don't like to use known host plants, at least not on purpose.

If you choose your plants with that in mind, you shouldn't have a lot of caterpillar activity. I know that I don't see very many. Yet the gardens are full of 'flutterby' wings all the time.

If you plant a variety of nectar plants, you are bound to attract some hummingbirds, as well. My hummers are busiest in garden areas where there are also small trees or large shrubs close at hand. I know of no plant that repels butterflies...but I don't think that that is really what you want, is it? You simply don't want them to be using all of your plants for caterpillar nurseries.

Here is a link that might be useful: Information about nectar plants

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:38AM
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Thanks Rhizo. You are right. I still like butterflies in my garden, but not the caterpillars. Can you give some examples of the (caterpillar) host plants that I can avoid? I had butterflyweed which attracted butterflies and left caterpillar problem, and also has zillions of aphids on it. So I'm getting rid of those plants. Trying to fill up the garden with something else.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 10:09AM
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The butterflyweed is the host plant for the Monarch butterfly. You might want to stay away from passionvines, parsley, and citrus trees also. I know they seem icky but these caterpillars don't bite or sting. But they do like to eat :-) You may want to go to the website for Almost Eden Nursery. They have list for butterfly host plants and humming bird plants.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:18PM
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I really think you will have fewer butterflies around if the host plants aren' there. It makes sense since the females are around to lay the eggs on the host plant and of course the males come for the females and the cycle continues. The females continue to lay for a period of time so they will hang around the entire time. If you eliminate the host plants, then they will nectar and move on. I am not saying that you won't have them but the caterpillars are really an important part of the life cycle. Caterpillars carry no diseases that are harmful to humans (butterfly cats at least). If I handle the spiny ones (like Zebra Longwings), I might get a little irritation on my skin but its minor. I just know which ones not to bother. Moth caterpillars can sting (I guess that is what you say) and you probably have those around if you have wooded areas or trees. I find them when I am weeding. My rule is if its fuzzy or spiny, don't touch.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:43PM
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"My rule is if its fuzzy or spiny, don't touch". Excellent Rule!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 2:23PM
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