Friday, February 2, 2018

Gardening for Butterflies Too

The first part of Gardening for Butterflies is Here in case you missed it.

Part II. 

There are bits and pieces of scattered plants in our garden. Sometimes they are volunteer plants that grow outside our notice, and we just allowed them there as they look beautiful. And to tell you the truth, i confess, half of the garden is under my mother's sight. This part i call Biodiversity Garden because she plants a lot in there. Sometimes the cuttings were inserted somewhere and they just grow. When i was younger i use to intrude in there and arrange some plantings, but these days i just let them be. To my surprise the residents of the insect kingdom wants it that way. So i started appreciating everything in there. They are visited more by the butterflies and other small ones i got interested to photograph too! 

In all honesty, i made an enclosure for the hoyas so that my mother will not put her hands in them. Or else the bottom layer will also be full of whatever plants she can find elsewhere. To other people, she is what they call the green thumb! Whatever plant she inserted on the ground will live, the greenthumb grandma.

So what follows are mostly the residents of mother's Biodiversity Garden, a term i use so i will not pull out many plants there. 

1. Asystasia intrusa

They are lovely when photographed, loved by some insects, but become unrully, grows very well up to the dry season, and tend to be invasive. But of course we let them be because some butterflies love them. Its character fits well with its name.

2. Artemisia scoparia

This is like dill in characteristics, in fact i used to call it Dill or No Dill. Despite the very thin leaves and branches many insects call them home. The almost dried plants at the right still holds some insects. It also has an aromatic scent pleasant to humans and may also be like that or attractive for insects.


It lures not only that wasp butterfly, but also the crow and the other tigers. When the branches are cut and let dry it lures the tigers to congregate and not leave anymore. I wonder if they are doped by the aromatic scent. They get groggy and cannot fly far, or they seem hallucinating! I do not know what happens to them, these are just my observation. 

3. Stachetarpheta jamaicensis

This is one of the most fascinating weed for butterflies. I learned that there are other colors of this porter weed in other countries, but we only have the blue-violet. Whenever there is the porter weed, just wait and there will be butterflies coming over. All our butterflies including skippers want the porter weed as nectar plant. Below are 6 types of butterflies, and i assure you there are more that feed on them.


4. Tridax procumbens

It is just a weed on the sidewalks, growing luxuriantly during the rainy season. It serves almost as ground cover, not really considered nice but i can change my mind because they are visited by butterflies. Unlike the porterweed, this is low almost just about a foot in height, with the flower pedicels protruding taller than the leaves. The smaller butterflies feed on them. The big ones do not alight on them because the stems will not carry their weight. 

 can you see the skipper caught leaving

a Palm Bob stays there for quite sometime, letting me get a nicer shot

Psyche, Leptosia nina georgi, is a low flying butterfly and its weight fits agreeably with the Tridax's thin stem.  

5. unknown blue flowers

This weed is small with also very small leaves and flowers. The stems are maybe just 1 foot tall, thin stems with long internodes and easily sways with the wind. The mini blue single petals are also very thin and born on each node. The Tiny Grass Blue, maybe the smallest among the butterflies, feed on these flowers too. Try to visualize the less than 1 cm butterfly on a 3mm long flowers, and you will say why in this world do i spend time with them! But look at the photos, are they not cute? 

6. hagonoy, Chromolaena odorata

In contrast with most of the weeds, this weed can grow as tall as 6 ft per stem, and the main stems in the soil produce lots of branches. They don't produce branches above ground, but from those rhizome-like underground stems. Their roots are also hard and deep that can withstand long dry spell. It is one of the most invasive too. The above ground parts dry but the underground parts grow again during the first heavy rains. 

The plant is said to be poisonous to livestock, but some butterflies nectar on them too. Although there are also butterflies that do not like them, i suppose. The Common Three Ring and the Common Five Ring are frequent visitors of its blooms, which are hairy white borne in big umbels. I see skippers alightem on them as well.

Only this season, i observed that drying hagonoy plants with exposed roots are also attractive to tiger butterflies and crows. I just accidentally come accross them converging on uprooted plants. I disturbed them intentionally, they just flew a little distance and came back. I left them for 3 hours and they were still there on my way home. Included above are Glassy Tigers, Dark Blue Tigers, Grey Glassy Tigers and Dwarf Crows.  

Maybe as its name implies, it has an odor that could be attractive to butterflies. They prefer sucking the roots though. I put some uprooted plants near them, and they just really converge with the exposed roots.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Dark blue glassy tiger and Dwarf Crow

7. Aeschynomene americana

On a vacant lot near our house are lots of grasses and weeds. One of them is this legume-like plant which attracts this lycaenids, Tiny Grass Blue or Zizula hylax pygmaea.  I realized they not only sip the nectar, but they also use it as host plant. The individual flowers are  less than a centimeter in length, and the eggs are deposited on young shoots. 

8. Turnera ulmifolia

Turnera ulmifolia just opens their flowers half day in the morning. The bright yellow blooms close at mid-day. So the butterflies rush to them in the morning. Other insects specially the stingless bees also love nectaring on this. The plant is also resistant to drought, so the butterflies always have them. Below is a Glassy Tiger, Parantica vitrina vitrina, and a skipper.  This plant can grow in not so fertile soil and the deep roots can penetrate dense spaces.

The other one, Turnera  subulata, which is lighter in color, is not as attractive for butterflies as this one.


  1. Truly lovely butterfly shots. Love the vivid yellow color. Thank you for sharing and I wish you a great weekend ahead.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  2. Very well documented, my friend! I have some of those weeds growing in the perimeter of my property at Cozy Coast, but sadly I haven't spotted butterflies alighting on any one of them! Either they are evasive, by nature, or evasive of me! Lol!

    1. They have strong sense of perception, so maybe evasive of you. Nectar plants alone will not lure butterflies, host plants time!

  3. Flowers AND butterflies - what an informative post! The Tigers stand out to me - a lustrous blue! We are hoping that our landscaping plan at our new house will attract many butterflies!

    1. Thanks Angie for the visit and kind words. Yes it is very nice in the landscape planning the portion for host plants and the rest for the nectar plants. That is really Gardening for Butterflies, and for people. lols.

  4. Great post Andrea. It is interesting that plants seem to naturally find the best location for them to grow by themselves. It is good to give them a helping hand, though.
    It is fantastic that you have managed to take a picture with five different species in it. Not that I can tell the difference between them!!
    Is the Tridax also known as Coat Buttons? I saw a similar plant in St Lucia, which attracted a number of smaller species of butterflies.
    It is lovely to see all of your tropical butterflies and plants, particularly during our winter! You have made me quite excited about what I hope to achieve at our new property in the Scottish Borders!

    1. Thank you so much Nick. I am also maybe silently hoping that you appreciate my butterfly photos, somehow I always think of you as my audience. I always appreciate your comments and visits. I am not familiar with Tridax common names, I will try to search that later.


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