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BUTTERFLIES, CATERPILLARS AND HUMMINGBIRDS

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Choosing plants

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During class surveys, children very frequently comment on the lack of nature on the school grounds and say they would like to see more bird and insect life. Growing well-planned wildflower gardens can attract a wide variety of winged creatures throughout the year.

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Photo: Emily Coffey
Butterflies like many flowers but they only lay their eggs on plants their offspring will eat. Make sure you grow plants for both butterflies and caterpillars.

Hummingbirds will feed from a wide variety of nectar-producing flowers.

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Leaving on the spent heads of wildflowers such as joe-pye weed, purple cone flower, black-eyed susans, ironweed, cosmos and coreopsis will provide a source of seeds for other birds such as finches in the Autumn and Winter.


Plants for butterflies


Native Plants for Butterflies

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Ashes

Fraxinus spp.

Aster, panicled

Aster lanceolatus

Aster, New England

Aster novae-angliae

Aster, Purple-stemmed

Aster puniceus

Aster, Ciliolate

Aster ciliolatus

Aster, Large-leafed

Aster macrophyllus

Aster, Heart-leaved

Aster cordifolius

Basswood, American Linden

Tilia americana

Bee-balm

Monarda didyma

Bindweed, Hedge

Convolvulus sepium

Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta

Blazing-star

Liatris ligulistylis

Bergamots, wild

Monarda spp.

Buckeye, Ohio

Aesculus glabra

Butterflyweed

Asclepias tuberosa

Cinquefoil, Shrubby

Potentilla paradoxa

Chokecherry

Prunus maackii

Coneflower, Purple

Echinacea purpurea

Coreopsis, Lance-leaf

Coreopsis lanceolata

Elderberries

Sambucus spp.

Dogbane, Spreading

Apocynum androsaemifolium

Dogwoods

Cornus spp.

Fleabane

Erigeron spp.

Field Pussytoes

Antennaria neglecta

Fireweed

Epilobium angustifolium

Gayfeathers

Latris spp.

Geranium, wild

Geranium spp.

Giant Hyssops

Agastache spp.

Goldenrods

Solidago spp.

Hawkweeds

Hieracium spp.

Honeysuckles

Lonicera spp.

Indian blanket

Gaillardia pulchella

Knapweed, American

Centaurea americana

Knotweeds

Polygonum spp.

Lead Plant

Amorpha canescens

Meadowsweet

Spiraea latifolia

Milk-vetch

Astragalus canadensis

Milkweed, common

Asclepias syriaca

Mints

Mentha spp.

Nannyberry

Viburnum lentago

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothus americanus

Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

Pearly Everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea

Phlox

Phlox spp.

Pinks

Dianthus spp.

Puccoon, hoary

Lithospermum canescens

Poplars

Populus spp.

Pussy Willow

Salix discolor (male plants)

Ragworts

Senecio spp.

Sumac, fragrant

Rhus aromatica

Sumac, smooth

Rhus glabra

Sumac, staghorn

Rhus typhina

Strawberry, common

Fragaria virginiana

Sunflowers

Helianthus spp.

Touch-me-not

Impatiens capensis

Vervain, blue

Verbena hastata

Vetch, purple

Vicia americana

Vetchling

Lathyrus palustris

Violets

Viola spp.

White snakeroot

Eupatorium rugosum

Wolfberry

Symphoricarpos occidentalis

Yarrow, common

Achillea millefolium

 


Native and Cultivated Plants for Butterflies

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Elderberries

Sambucus spp.

Giant Hyssops

Agastache spp.

Honeysuckles

Lonicera spp.

Mints

Mentha spp.

Phlox

Phlox spp.

Pinks

Dianthus spp.

Vetch, purple

Vicia americana

Violets

Viola spp.



Introduced Plants for Butterflies

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Alyssum, Hoary

Berteroa incana

Bindweed, Field

Convolvulus arvensis

Catnip

Nepeta cataria

Chicory

Cichorium intybus

Clover, White Sweet

Melilotus alba

Clover, Red

Trifolium pratense

Clover, White

Trifolium repens

Heal-all

Prunella vulgaris

Hollyhock

Althaea rosea

Knapweed

Centaurea spp

Morning Glory, common

Ipomoea purpurea

Ox-eye daisy

Chrysanthemum leucanthemum

Queen Anne's Lace

Daucus carota




Cultivated Plants for Butterflies

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Alfalfa, Lucerne

Medicago sativa

Alyssum

Alyssum maritimum

Bachelorís Buttons, Cornflower

Centaurea cyanus

Butterfly Bush

Buddleia davidii

Cosmos

Cosmos bipinnatus

Day-lily

Hemerocallis fulva

Dill

Anethum graveolans

Hollyhock

Althaea rosea

Forget-me-not

Myosotis scorpioides

Garlic Chives

Allium tuberosum

Lavender, English

Lavendula vera (L. Angustifolia)

Lilac, common

Syringa vulgaris

Lupine

Lupinus perennis

Marigold, French

Tagetes patula

Mock-oranges

Philadelphus spp.

Nasturtium

Tropaeolum majus

Nasturtium, Trailing

Tropaeolum lobbianum

Parsley

Petroselinum crispum

Pea, Everlasting

Lathyrus latifolius

Pea, Sweet

Lathyrus odoratus

Sages

Salvia spp.

Sweet William

Dianthus barbatus

Vetch, crown

Coronilla varia

Zinnias

Zinnia spp.

Grow plants for caterpillars as well as for butterflies!

 


Plants for caterpillars


Plants for Caterpillars

 

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Native

Ashes

Fraxinus spp.

Native

Birches

Betula spp.

Cultivated

Borage

Borago officinalis

Native

Chokecherry

Prunus Maackii

Cultivated

Dill

Anethum graveolans

Cultivated

Lilac, common

Syringa vulgaris

Native

Milkweed, common

Asclepias syriaca

Native

Oaks

Quercus spp.

Cultivated

Parsley

Petroselinum crispum

Introduced

Queen Anne's Lace

Daucus carota

Native

Rue, Early Meadow

Thalictrum dioicum

Native

Rue, Purple Meadow

Thalictrum dasycarpum

 

 Plants for hummingbirds


Native Plants for Hummingbirds

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Beard-tongues

Penstemon

Bee-balm

Monarda didyma

Cardinal flower

Lobelia cardinalis

Columbine, wild

Aquilegia canadensis

Honeysuckles

Lonicera spp.

Jewelweed

Impatiens capensis

Ladyís Slipper, Yellow

Cypripedium calceolus

Peas, sweet

Lathyrus odoratus

Phloxes

Phlox spp.

Sage, Lyre-leafed

Salvia lyrata

Touch-me-not, spotted

Impatiens capensis

Trumpet creeper

Campsis radicans

Native species

There are many native and naturalized or introduced butterfly- and hummingbird-useful species of flowering plants to choose from. Whereas some naturalized or introduced flowering plants are excellent choices for attracting insects and birds, others are problematic. Purple loosestrife is a good example of an introduced flowering species that is undesirable because it is extremely invasive and chokes out other plants from existing habitat. Make sure that the plants you choose are non-invasive.


 CHECK LIST

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You will need to know:

  • what types of soil and sunlight exposure plants prefer

  • how tall they grow and how much they spread

  • when they bloom

  • what insects, caterpillars, and birds they will attract

  • whether they are invasive, poisonous or thorny

  • what plants produce flowers, berries and seeds for birds

  • how to make your gardens additionally useful to wildlife

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