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Sunday - April 19, 2009

From: Berrien Springs, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Plants for Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am wanting to raise Painted Lady butterflies and release them into my garden. I know that they like to eat Mallow plants, but I was wondering what kind of Mallow plant would be best for my garden?


Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady) butterflies have certainly been recorded in Berrien County, Michigan and it sounds like a fun thing to do to raise and release them in your garden.  You have lots of choices, including mallows, for both larval and adult Painted Ladies. The Painted Lady is also known as the Thistle Butterfly because of its preferences for those plants.


Any of the thistles native to Michigan, including:

Cirsium discolor (field thistle), Cirsium muticum (swamp thistle) and Cirsium undulatum (wavyleaf thistle).

Here are some attractive mallows native to Michigan for your garden:

Hibiscus laevis (halberdleaf rosemallow)

Hibiscus moscheutos (crimsoneyed rosemallow)

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow)

Other plants for larvae:

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Helianthus annuus (common sunflower)

Vernonia gigantea (giant ironweed)


Liatris aspera (tall blazing star)

Vernonia gigantea (giant ironweed) 

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus (trumpetweed)

Eupatoriadelphus maculatus (spotted trumpetweed)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

You should realize that the plants listed above also attract other butterflies so you should have a garden filled with beauty.

Cirsium discolor

Cirsium muticum

Cirsium undulatum

Hibiscus laevis

Hibiscus moscheutos

Callirhoe involucrata

Achillea millefolium

Lupinus perennis

Helianthus annuus

Vernonia gigantea

Liatris aspera

Asclepias incarnata

Asclepias tuberosa

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus

Eupatoriadelphus maculatus

Cephalanthus occidentalis





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