I am looking for host plants for the Painted Lady Butterfly that I can plant in my school's (I am a teacher) native plant/butterfly garden. As part of the curriculum, each Fall our 2nd graders study Painted Lady butterflies from their larva stage and then release them outside. We have an unfinished garden area and I would like to incorporate the host plants for these butterflies for the larvae as well as adults in the garden so that the children can see them in their natural habitat. Anything I have read is very vague - mallow, thistle (but what varieties?) Any suggestions would be gratefully welcomed! Thank you very much and I look forward to your response.
According to Butterflies and Moths of North America the main larval host plant for Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady) butterflies are thistles and plants in the Family Malvaceae (Mallow Family). They prefer nectar from flowers of plants in the Family Asteraceae (Aster Family) that are 3-6 feet high. They especially like thistles, but also asters, blazing star, ironweed and Joe Pye weed.
Here are four thistle species that are native to Minnesota:
A combination of any of these plants would make a lovely garden. Not only would they attract the Painted Lady butterflies, but you probably noticed that many of these plants are hosts to other butterfly species as well. Be sure to check the growing conditions for each of the species above to be sure they match the conditions at your site.
Will shoes pick up American Beautyberry fruit and stain carpets? March 21, 2010 - Do the berries from American Beautyberry fall on the ground so your shoes pick up the berries to stain the carpet in my house? view the full question and answer
Wildlife management tax exemption May 15, 2007 - I live on 10 acres of prairie land near Austin. I want to learn about drying and pressing and gluing and preserving wildflowers as art in pictures and bookmarks and cards. My attempts have failed an... view the full question and answer
Evergreens for a deer corridor in MI April 16, 2012 - I am growing three rows of evergreens for a wildlife, deer travel corridor, and am looking for which trees grow well together and are shade tolerant of each other when planted at the same time, or at ... view the full question and answer
Native plants to attract migrating birds June 12, 2010 - Can you suggest native plants that would attract migrating birds? I have a very sunny location, with very sandy soil. Thanks in advance for your answer. view the full question and answer
Something eating milkweed leaves in Austin June 23, 2011 - I have some milk weed plants, and have noticed in the last few weeks that something is eating the leaves on them. The flowers are fine and no other plant appears to be bothered. I thought perhaps it w... view the full question and answer