Host Plants for Butterflies & Moths
Native plants are tied to the successful lifecycle of numerous butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). Important not only for their nectar, many natives play the critical role of "larval host plant." Host plants provide food during the caterpillar phase that is part of the butterfly/moth lifecycle.
While trees tend to "host the most," numerous Lepidoptera rely on wildflowers, ferns, grasses or shrubs as host for their larval phase. Some deposit their eggs on one plant species, to the exclusion of others, as is the case with Monarch butterflies and milkweed plants (Asclepias sp.). Other butterflies might be less exclusive when it comes to which plants will host their caterpillars, but they do have preferences.
Caterpillar Friendly Gardening
Last year's leaves, grasses and "yard waste" play an important role in the bio-community of the garden and landscape. Many butterflies and moths over-winter in fallen leaves and spent plant material from the previous season. A light-handed approach to “cleaning up” the garden allows more butterflies and moths to thrive. Avoid raking the ground clean around shrubs, trees, and garden beds, as it can destroy the hibernation environment for the very life that you are trying to support.