En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
43 ratings

Thursday - June 01, 2006

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Native host plants for Painted Lady Butterfly
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 spring the 1st grade raises painted lady butterflies from eggs, and then release them outside. I maintain the garden (I am actually the art teacher!) and would like to incorporate the host plants for these butterflies in the garden so that the children can see them in their natural habitat. Anything I have read is very vague - mallow (but what varieties?), thistle (again, what type of thistle), and a few other non-specific plants. Any suggestions would be gratefully welcomed! Thank you very much and I look forward to your response.

ANSWER:

There appear to be many larval hosts for American Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) according to several sources (1. Ajilvsgi, Geyata. 1990. "Butterfly Garding for the South" Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing. 2. Neck, Raymond. 1996. A Field Guide to Butterflies of Texas. Houston: Gulf Publishing. 3. Damude, Noreen. 1999. Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife. Austin: Texas Parks & Wildlife.) Here are a few specific ones mentioned that are native to the Houston area. These are all in the Family Asteraceae (Aster Family) but there is also mention of plants in the Family Malvaceae (Mallow Family):

Sweet everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium)
Parlin's pussytoes (Antennaria parlinii)
Mugwort wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana)
Missouri ironweed ( Vernonia missurica) and Texas ironweed (Vernonia texana)
Rabbit tobacco (Evax prolifera)
Yarrow or Milfoil (Achillea millefolium)
Yellow thistle (Cirsium horridulum) and Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum)

The adults feed almost exclusively on flower nectar. Here are some species native to the Houston area that the adults feed on:

Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) Family Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)
Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) Family Asteraceae (Aster Family)
Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
Deer pea vetch (Vicia ludoviciana) Family Fabaceae (Pea Family)
 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
June 18, 2012 - Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs a...
view the full question and answer

Information for constructing a butterfly observation building
December 19, 2008 - I am looking for information on the construction of an indoor butterfly observation building and am having no luck. Thought I would take a chance and ask you.
view the full question and answer

Non-native tropical Butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera) in Houston
February 02, 2006 - HOWDY . . . Miss Smarty Plants !!! I am trying to identify one of the most intriguing, unusual & beautiful vines that I have ever seen. I encountered this vine at the home of an 87 year old widow ...
view the full question and answer

Green blooms on Cedar Sage in Lucas TX
September 22, 2010 - I have two Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana) one purchased from your plant sale and one from a local nursery planted in part shade in the Dallas area. They seem to be quite happy and are blooming but ...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly gardening in Wood County, TX
February 11, 2009 - What food and host plants should be planted for butterflies in Wood County Texas.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center