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What to Plant

The Eastern Tiger swallowtail is a gorgeous butterfly, no debate there. Their host plants include trees and shrubs, a great reminder to gardeners that a pollinator garden is more than flowers. While the swallowtail will feed on our nectar plants, it needs plants its caterpillars can feast upon. Plant spicebush shrub or sassafras, tulip or black cherry trees for this butterfly. 
Black swallowtail is an attractive butterfly with an impressive caterpillar form, too. We head to the herb section of the nursery to outfit our gardens for this visitor. The larvae of the black swallowtail likes parsley, fennel, and dill. 
Pearl crescent butterflies rely on a strong stand of asters for their larvae. They will also feed on the nectar of the aster and other garden plants.

The great spangled fritillary depends on the common blue violet for its existence. What we find interesting is that the larvae overwinter without feeding. Come spring, they make their way to the host plant, the common blue violet, feeding only at night. During the butterfly stage, the great spangled fritillary will stop at many different flowers, including the milkweed, which you will most likely have an abundance of to support the monarch butterfly. 
This is just a tiny sampling of butterflies we want to create a habitat for. And while they all have their own host plants, what they all need is access to minerals and water. 
A shallow pan with pebbles and water works well. The chlorine in tap water will dissipate in short order. Many butterflies also are drawn to scat, rotting fruit and animal remains. 
Butterflies rely on the sun for warmth. Add a few perching spots, such as large stones, where they can bask in the sun, especially on cooler mornings. You should also provide shelter during cooler nights and from the wind via large leaf plants as well as trees and shrubs.

For an exhaustive list of plants, when they bloom and which native butterflies they attract, review the The Ohio State Extension’s publication found via this link.

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