Want to See Julias? You've Got to Plant Natives!

Poor poor South Floridians; we can't make a trek to a real pumpkin patch to celebrate the fall season. And if we buy a real pumpkin from a fake pumpkin patch, it turns to mush on our doorstep in about two days, if we're lucky. But we can enjoy the most orange butterfly on the planet right in our own yards if we go native with our plantings!

This extract is from an article in the Native Roots series, written by Jeff Nurge, a member of the Palm Beach County Chapter of FNPS. It runs a couple of times a month in the Palm Beach Post.


  


  Sporting long wings and a quick and graceful flight it is easy to spot the Julia.  The male is bright orange on top while the female is a duller orange with black bands across the top of the forewings.  The butterfly only gives away its true color as a caterpillar by its orange head. The caterpillars remainder length is black with rows of white spots on top and down both sides.  The Julia is practically flying year round having three or more broods a year.  Moving from shade to sunlight in the wild the Julia can be seen inhabiting the edges of hardwood hammocks and dense underbrush.      
   
How to attract them:  Ranging only from the most southern parts of South Florida the Julia attracts butterfly watchers from across the country.  We are fortunate here in Palm Beach County as this is typically the northern range for the Julia.  However unless you have planted a native passion-vine in your yard chances are you cannot be in the garden long enough to catch a glimpse of the Julia.  While a number of our native host passion-vines have the potential to lure these beauties into your landscape full time I have found that one vine in particular is a sure fire bet.  Passiflora Multiflora aka White Passion-vine is a must have for this species of butterfly.  This state-listed endangered vine from Dade county is a high climber with tendrils.  Plant in an area that gets full sun with plenty of room to spread out.  While the vine likes it more on the moist side, it will tolerate short periods of drought.  Thankfully the Passifloria Multifloria has found its way into cultivation and is a favorite for the seriously minded butterfly gardener.

This is a close-up, it's tiny!
              
Where to buy it: The native plants to attract and feed this butterfly are available at native nurseries, including Meadowbeauty Native Nursery (561-966-6848) in Lake Worth.  To find other nurseries that carry it, visit the Association of Florida Native Nurseries at www.afnn.org, but don’t stop there.  The site provides only a snapshot of the offerings at local nurseries, so call around.

Jeff Nurge
WWW.FloridaNativeGardening.com

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