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Butterflies in the Garden

Everywhere across Australia are butterflies. Although most of us think of animals in the garden as birds, possums, lizards, etc, we too often overlooked the wondrous fluttering friends of foliage and flowers.

Butterflies provide a carefree element to a garden. Their flutter into the garden then out again can relate to events of the day and our lives.

A butterfly friendly garden is one that does not use chemicals, has a large variety of plant types for both feeding larval caterpillars and mature butterflies, and one that is surrounded by other like-minded gardeners or local bushland.

Most importantly, if you want to conserve these fanciful freelance wanders, then you need to take action to plant the right species.

Each butterfly has one or more special plants that their caterpillars feed on. This is called the host plant and it is where the caterpillars tends to live its entire live. However, eventually the caterpillar pupates (matures) into a winged butterfly that then feed off many other plants in sourcing nectar.

The female butterflies seeks out the host plants to deposit eggs. If you want a reliable population of butterflies in your garden, you must plant these types of plants.

Below is just a small sample plants and the type of native butterflies that they sustain. which is what we all should grow.

Citrus trees provide a host for the larvae of Dingy Swallowtail (Eleppone anactus) and Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus)

Aristolochia vines are a host to numerous butterflies, however only the following species should be grown
Aristolochia pubera .. host of Big Greasy (Cressida cressida)
Aristolochia praevenosa, Aristolochia tagala & Aristolochia deltantha .. host of Richmond Birdwing (Ornithoptera richmondia)

Perhaps Queenslands most famous butterfly is the Ulysses (Papilio ulysses) which relies upon both Melicope elleryana (syn. Euodia elleryana) and Evodiella muelleri.

Cassia fistula is host to Lemon Migrant (Catopsilia pomona) and Tailed Emperor (Polyura sempronius)

Wattles are a favourite to Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe) and Common Imperial Blue  (Jalmenus avagoras)

The popular garden plant plumbago is a host to the Zebra Blue (Syntarucus plinius).
Oleanders and figs are host the classic black and white butterfly Common Crow (Euploea core).

Even common weeds such as the milkweed is the host to the Wanderer butterflies (Danaus plexippus and D. chrysippus)

Other sources are great information about butterflies, go to:-

Sydney region

Victorian butterflies

Wet Tropics


Book by Queensland Museum
Wildlife of Greater Brisbane
ISBN 0 7242 6447 7

National Heritage Trust – Action Plan for Australian Butterflies

Gardening Prizes

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