Butterflies lay their eggs on plants that will be a food source for growing larvae. Each species of butterfly requires specific plants for its larvae. For example, Monarch larvae feed on milkweed. Black swallowtail larvae eat parsley or dill.
Adult butterflies feed on nectar from many different types of flowers. Because they sit on a flower while they sip nectar, adults prefer plants with closely packed clusters of flowers. Preferred plants include butterfly bush, lilac, yarrow, chokecherry and rabbitbrush, and daisy-type flowers such as sunflower and cosmos. Butterflies are more likely to visit flowers in a sunny location than a shady one, and to seek out fragrant flowers rather than those without a scent.
A favorite congregating spot for butterflies is an area that has moist sand or a mud puddle where they can get moisture and minerals.
Butterflies are cold blooded and fly only when temperatures rise above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They need a place to roost on cool, cloudy or rainy days. Shrubs, tall grasses or log piles provide suitable roosting sites. A cluster of flat rocks in a sheltered area of the garden will serve as a place where butterflies can warm up on sunny days.
Vary the height of plants to suit the feeding habits of various butterflies. Leave an open area where they can fly and also be protected from gusty winds.
With a little planning and care, you can attract butterflies and their caterpillars that will add interest to a garden.
Adapted from an article
Paintings by Pio Carlone