Worldwide, in temperate and tropical climates
Often described as "flying flowers," butterflies come in many bright colors and patterns, but all of them are the adult form of a leaf-eating caterpillar. One species commonly seen in gardens – the cabbage white butterfly – is also a major pest, because the larvae are cabbage worms which feast on brassica crops. However, the larvae of most other common butterflies feed on trees or non-crop plants, so their presence is welcome in the garden.
Butterflies help pollinate some crops when they visit open flowers to sip nectar.
Food and Habitat:
All butterflies require specific host plants for their young, which varies with species. Monarchs must have milkweeds, while yellow sulphurs need legumes growing in grassy fields. Butterfly larvae feed on plants, but the adults require flower nectar to keep them going. Zinnias, lantana, monarda, and thistles are among their favorite nectar plants.
You can increase the diversity of butterflies in your yard by growing larval host plants including milkweeds, nettles, hops, and blackthorn. Find room for nectar-rich annual flowers that bloom in late summer like cosmos and zinnias, both butterfly favorites.