Eggs, Larvae, Pupa and then Adult- this amazing metamorphosis goes on every day without us. 

Plants - host and nectar and what that means? 

Host Plants - plants a butterfly needs to lay its eggs on and the Larvae needs to eat

Nectar Plants - plants a butterfly needs to "drink" from to get nourishment

Do I have to let the caterpillar eat my plants? Yes, if you ever want Butterflies!

How can I have butterflies in my yard? Plant items from the lists below and come to a class at Flying Flowers of Beagle Ridge.

The Life Cycle of a Butterfly
First the Egg

Here are pictures of Monarch eggs in the flowers and on the leaves of tropical Milkweed. 

MONARCH EGGS ON TROPICAL MILKWEED FLOWERS
EGGS ON MILKWEED

This is a Tulip Popular Tree which was still in a pot when a Tiger Swallowtail laid her eggs. 

TIGER SWALLOWTAIL EGGS ON tULIP POPULAR
A Monarch laying eggs.
ADULT MONARCH LAYING EGGS ON MILKWEED

 Spicebush Swallowtail eggs.  Notice how the leaves are cut and curled. Once the larval hatch, they cut and roll the leaves around themselves to protect themselves.  

SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL EGGS ON SPICEBUSH

Next the Larvae - they are also referred to as Caterpillars in this stage

TWO SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL CSTERPILLARS

Notice they are two different sizes?  The top one is a 2nd Instar the bottom a 3rd Instar. Each time they molt they will change a bit and get larger. Spicebush Swallowtails change dramatically.

4TH INSTAR OF A SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL CATERPILLAR
The Larvae stage is approximately 10-12 days long. During this time they will molt 5 times. Each time they molt they are getting rid of a smaller layer of skin and getting a bigger one in its place so they can continue to grow.

Yes, this is a Spicebush Swallowtail. He becomes green to camouflage but the eye spots will scare away predators. Those are not eyes! His eyes are actually down in the beige part by his mouth. 

CLOSEUP OF 4TH INSTAR

Notice the color changes, the peachy colored one is getting ready to pupate.

When a butterfly larvae pupates they form a chrysalis and this is where the caterpillar will turn into a butterfly.
SPICEBUSH CATS ONE READY TO PUPATE
The Chrysalis 
Typically it takes 10-14 days from when the chrysalis is formed to when a butterfly will hatch. However, since some butterflies hibernate in chrysalis form it can take a year or more before they will hatch.
Finally the Butterfly
A butterfly has a short life, after they breed they will only live for roughly 30 days. During this time they will lay eggs so the life cycle can continue.

The following is a list of Butterflies and what their larvae eat- remember as a caterpillar they only eat, as an adult butterfly they drink.   These wonderful insects will eat the Host plants as a caterpillar  and as such if there is something you want to use such as Parsley, plant extra for them and be sure to share. 

So in order to make your yard a habitat for Butterflies you will need plants for all the stages of their life. 


Butterflies and their required Host Plants

From  A Regional Guide to Butterfly Gardening in our area

Region 6
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia

      • Black Swallowtail
        (
        Papilio polyxenes)

          • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

          • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

          • Carrot (Daucus carota)

          • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
             

      • Spicebush Swallowtail
        (
        Papilio troilus)

          • Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

          • Sassafrass (Sassafrass albidum)
             

      • Tiger Swallowtail
        (
        Papilio glaucus)

          • Wild Cherry (Prunus spp.)

          • Poplar (Populus spp.)
             

      • Pipevine Swallowtail
        (
        Battus philenor)

          • Pipevines (Aristolochia spp.)
             

      • Buckeye
        (
        Junonia coenia)

          • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum spp.)

          • Verbena (Verbenaceae)
             

      • Pearl Crescent
        (
        Phyciodes tharos)

          • Asters (Asteraceae)
             

      • Monarch
        (
        Danaus plexippus)

          • Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)
             

      • Cloudless Sulphur
        (
        Phoebis sennae)

          • Wild Senna (Cassia spp.)
             

      • Gulf Fritillary
        (
        Dione vanillae)

          • Passion Vine (Passiflora spp.)
             

      • Red-spotted Purple
        (
        Limenitis astyanax)

          • Willow (Salix spp.)

          • Wild Cherry(Prunus spp.)

FLOWERS (Nectar Sources)
The following are excellent sources of nectar for your Butterfly Garden and can be purchased at many retail nurseries and garden centers throughout the country. Plant these in abundance where regionally available. Although many of these are annuals at the farm they are worth planting as nectar producers. The items in
Red are usually available at Flying Flowers, items in Blue should be started from seed.


  • Heliotrope
  • Lantana
  • Milkweed
  • Mint
  • Bee Balm
  • Echinacea                             
  • Pentas
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Verbena
  • Zinnias
  • Goldenrod
  • Asters