A Butterfly Journey
|Collage of Native Florida Butterfly Wings|
I will always remember the day my journey started, just five years ago.I was strolling through the nursery on a typical hot summer day when a beautiful native milkweed plant caught my eye. At the time I was drawn to the blooms alone (not realizing the many benefits this one plant would soon provide). It was not long before the female Monarch butterfly flew in to lay her eggs on the Milkweed. Suddenly, my entire outlook on gardening changed.
If this one plant could bring in so much life, imagine what would happen if more native plants were added. I began by incorporating butterfly larval host plants and adult butterfly nectar plants. Implementing both host and nectar sources allows the butterflies to complete their entire lifecycle in my small urban garden.
|(Top left to right: Black Swallowtail on Cirsium horridulum, White Peacock on Bidens alba, Horace's Duskywing on Callicarpa americana, Cassius Blue on Heliotropium angiospermum)|
|Eastern black swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes asterius|
|(Top left to right: Queen on Conoclinium coelestinum, Horace's Duskywing on Gaillardia pulchella, Cassius Blue on Salvia coccinea, Fiery skipper on Heliotropium angiospermum)|
For ground cover, I planted Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). Frogfruit is the host plant for the White Peacock, Phaon Crescent as well as the Common Buckeye. Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa) is another wonderful ground cover that attracts the Little Sulphur butterfly.
|Collage of Native Wildflowers|
|Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus)|
|Ryan's Yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and a Waystation for Monarchs|
Butterfly gardening was just the beginning of my journey. As I continue to remove existing exotic plants and replace them with natives, I envision my native garden, full of insects, birds and other animals.
|Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars and Passion Vine leaf|