Butterfly / Pollinator Gardening

Red Admiral Butterfly

Insects play an important role in our ecosystem as part of the food web, as decomposers, as pollinators and for many other things. If you want to help pollinators and encourage more butterflies to visit your yard it is important to plant the right plants. Below are some different plant suggestion you could do in your yard.

GOOD NECTAR PLANTS FOR POLLINATORS & BUTTERFLIES

*indicates Iowa native plants

Perennials

Milkweeds (several native species), Coneflowers (include native varieties), Joe-pye Weed*, Ironweed*, Blazing Star*, Clovers *, Purple Prairie Clover*, Violets*, Goldenrods (include native varieties), Bee Balm (include native varieties), Butterfly Bush, Salvia, Asters, Black-eyed Susan*, Dame’s Rocket*, Fleabane*, Phlox, Globe Thistle, Hyssop, Leadplant*, Penstemons*, Mints*, Stonecrop Sedum

Annuals

Cosmos, Lantana, Salvia, Heliotrope, Marigold, Zinnias

Nectar Trees

Basswood*, Sugar & Silver Maple*, Kentucky Coffeetree*, Little Leaf Linden,
Flowering Dogwood

Nectar Shrubs

American Elder*, Arrowood, Nannyberry, Highbush Cranberry Viburnums, Buttonbush*, False Indigo*, Fragrant Sumac*, American Hazelnut*, Ninebark*, Serviceberry*, Silky, Gray, Redosier Dogwoods, Wild Pasture Rose*, Rugosa Rose*

To encourage more butterflies to your yard, you need the host plants, below is a list of Iowa native species and plants they feed on as caterpillars.

 

Butterfly Common Name & Host Plant

  • Pipevine Swallowtail – Virginia Snakeroot, Dutchman’s Pipe
  • Zebra Swallowtail – Pawpaw
  • Black Swallowtail – Dill, Parsley, Fennel, Golden Alexanders
  • Giant Swallowtail – Prickly Ash, Hop Tree
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Wild Cherry, Basswood, Tulip Tree, Birch, Ash, Cottonwood, Willow
  • Spicebush Swallowtail – Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Checkered White- Wild Mustards
  • Cabbage White – Wild Mustards, Cabbage, Broccoli
  • Olympia Marble- Rock Cress
  • Clouded Sulphur – Clover, Alfalfa, other legumes
  • Orange Sulphur- Clover, Alfalfa, other legumes
  • Southern Dogface – Lead plant, Prairie Bush Clover, Baptisia
  • Cloudless Sulphur – Partridge Pea
  • Mexican Yellow- Partridge Pea
  •  Little Yellow – Partridge Pea
  • Sleepy Orange – Cassia species
  • Dainty Sulphur – Tickseed
  • Harvester- Woolly Aphid
  • American Copper – Red Sorrel
  • Gray Copper – Curly Dock
  • Bronze Copper – Curly Dock
  • Purplish Copper – Knotweed
  • Coral Hairstreak – Wild Cherry, Wild Plum
  • Acadian Hairstreak – Willow
  • Edwards’ Hairstreak – Oak
  • Banded Hairstreak – Oak, Hickory
  • Hickory Hairstreak – Shagbark Hickory
  • Striped Hairstreak – Hawthorn, Wild Cherry, Wild Plum, Ironwood
  • Henry’s Elfin – Eastern Redbud
  • Juniper Hairstreak – Red Cedar
  • White M Hairstreak – Oak
  • Gray Hairstreak – Mallows, Clovers
  • Marine Blue –  Leadwort, Alfalfa, Milkvetch
  • Reakirt’s Blue – Lead plant, Yellow Sweet Clover, Rattleweed
  • Eastern Tailed-Blue – Clover
  • Spring Azure – Dogwood, Viburnums, New Jersey Tea
  • Silvery Blue – Vetches, Legumes
  • Melissa Blue – Lupine
  • American Snout – Hackberry
  • Gulf Fritillary – Passionvine
  • Variegated Fritillary – Violets
  • Great Spangled Fritillary – Violets
  • Aphrodite Fritillary – Violets
  • Regal Fritillary – Prairie Violet, Bird’s Foot Violet
  • Silver-bordered Fritillary – Violets
  • Meadow Fritillary – Violets
  • Gorgone Checkerspot – Asters
  • Silvery Checkerspot – Asters, Black-eyed Susan
  • Pearl Crescent – Asters
  • Baltimore Checkerspot – Turtlehead
  • Question Mark – Elm, Hackberry, Nettles
  • Eastern Comma – Nettles, Hops, Elm
  • Gray Comma – Gooseberry, Currants
  • Compton Tortoiseshell – Birch, Aspen
  • Mourning Cloak – Willow, Birch, Cottonwood, Hackberry
  • Milbert’s Tortoiseshell – Nettles, Hops, Elm
  • American Lady – Pussytoes, Pearly Everlasting, Helichrysum
  • Painted Lady – Thistle, Nettle, Sunflowers, Mallow
  • Red Admiral – Nettles, Hops, Elm
  • Common Buckeye – Toadflax, Snapdragon, Plantain
  • Red-spotted Purple – Poplar, Aspen, Oak
  • White Admiral – Poplar, Aspen, Oak
  • Viceroy – Willow, Aspen
  • .Goatweed Leafwing – Goatweed, Prairie Tea
  • Hackberry Emperor – Hackberry
  • Tawny Emperor – Hackberry
  • Northern Pearly-eye – Rice-cutgrass, Bottlebrush grass
  • Eyed Brown – Tussock Sedge
  • Little Wood-Satyr – Orchardgrass
  • Common Ringlet – Grasses and sedges
  • Common Wood-Nymph – Purpletop
  • Monarch – Milkweeds
  • Queen – Milkweeds
  • Silver-spotted Skipper – Black Locust
  • Hoary Edge – False Indigo, Bush Clover
  • Southern Cloudywing – Bush Clover, Clover, Milkvetch
  • Northern Cloudywing – Bush Clover, Clover, Tick-trefoil
  • Hayhurst’s Scallopwing – Lamb’s Quarter
  • Dreamy Duskywing – Willow, Poplar
  • Sleepy Duskywing – Oak
  • Juvenal’s Duskywing – Oak
  • Horace’s Duskywing – Oak
  • Mottled Duskywing – New Jersey Tea
  • Columbine Duskywing – Columbine
  • Wild Indigo Duskywing – Wild Indigo
  • Persius Duskywing – Lupine
  • Com. Checkered-Skipper – Mallow, Hollyhocks
  • Common Sootywing – Lamb’s Quarter, Amaranth, Mints
  • Least Skipper – Bluegrass
  • Poweshiek Skipperling – Spikerush
  • European Skipper – Timothy
  • Fiery Skipper – Crabgrass
  • Ottoe Skipper – Little Bluestem
  • Leonard’s Skipper – Little Bluestem
  • Dakota Skipper – Little Bluestem, Bluegrass, Panic Grass
  • Peck’s Skipper – Rice cutgrass, Panic Grass
  • Tawny-edged Skipper – Panic Grass, Crabgrass, Bluegrass
  • Crossline Skipper – Purpletop, Little Bluestem
  • Long Dash – Bluegrass
  • Northern Broken-Dash – Panic Grass, Crabgrass, Bluegrass
  • Little Glassywing – Purpletop, Little Bluestem
  • Sachem – Crabgrass, Bluegrass
  • Arogos Skipper – Big Bluestem
  • Delaware Skipper – Big Bluestem, Switchgrass
  • Byssus Skipper – Eastern Gramma Grass, Big Bluestem
  • Mulberry Wing – Uptight Sedge, Tussock Sedge
  • Hobomok Skipper – Panic Grass, Crabgrass, Bluegrass
  • Zabulon Skipper – Purpletop, Bluegrass, Orchardgrass
  • Broad-winged Skipper – Hairy Sedge, Wild Rice
  • Dion Skipper – Hairy Sedge
  • Black Dash – Uptight Sedge, Tussock Sedge
  • Two-spotted Skipper – Tussock Sedge
  • Dun Skipper – Lake Sedge
  • Dusted Skipper – Little Bluestem
  • Pepper and Salt Skipper – Bluegrass, Indiangrass
  • Com. Roadside-Skipper – Bluegrass, Wild Oats
  • Eufala Skipper – Johnson grass, Bermuda grass
  • Swarthy Skipper – Little Bluestem