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Sunday - August 17, 2014

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Flowers that attract Queen butterflies
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Walking into the cloud of Queen butterflies around my Gregg's Mistflowers is one of the coolest things I've ever experienced, so I started wondering how I could prolong this "visitation". Can you suggest other varieties or species with similar Queen appeal, but earlier and later blooms?

ANSWER:

The Butterflies and Moths of North American website says that the flowers visited for nectar by the adult Danaus gilippus (Queen) include milkweeds and milkweed vine—these are also the larval hosts.  Other flowers listed by that website are  Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) [blooms May through October] and Bidens alba (Common beggarticks)Bidens alba doesn't occur in Travis or Williamson Counties but Bidens laevis (Smooth beggartick) [blooms June through October] does grow in Travis County.   

As well as Conoclinium greggii (Gregg's mistflower) [blooms March through November], there is Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower) [blooms July through November] that butterflies love.  Both occur in Travis and Williamson Counties and attract the Queen and other butterflies.

Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park in the Cayman Islands reports that Queen butterflies visit Lantana sp. and Croton sp. In Travis and Williamson Counties these would be:

Below are the native plants in the Family Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family) that occur in Travis and/or Williamson Counties:

Of course, you won't be able to find many of these for sale commercially, but you will find some of them available at the Wildflower Plant Sale—the next one being Octobe 9-11, 2015.  You should also check our National Suppliers Directory to find seed companies and nurseries near you that deal in native plants.  The Native Plant Society of Texas—NPSOT (Austin Chapter and Williamson County Chapter are the closest to you) often have sources for native plants or seeds.

Queens do migrate when they get the environmental signals that it's time to go and are not too likely to be around during the colder parts of winter; but, here is a link to the Texas Butterfly Ranch with help on what to feed late season Queens that get caught by a cold front for several days with little in the way of nectar plants for food/fuel.

 

 

 

 

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