The Black Swallowtail Butterfly
By Cheryl L. McClure
Realizing the Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars were feasting on it and will soon be forming into their chrysalis stage, I guess this plant won't be coming down anytime soon!
There is an abundance of Thistle growing wild at the ranch, and the butterflies LOVE this too! Maybe more as a feeding frenzy plant than a host plant though. One day I was walking, camera in hand across the meadow, and discovered a mirage of Thistle growing and several Black Swallowtails as well as other butterflies feasting on these flowers. It was fascinating to watch them busily alight from blossom to blossom.
If you want to create a habitat for butterflies you need an area that receives 5-6 hours of sunlight each day, preferably protected from wind. They also like to have a water source available. Check to see which flowering perennials are native to your area and verify which butterflies they will attract! You can pick plants at your local nursery or order online. In the area where we live, I chose the most drought tolerant perennial varieties I could get my hands on! I like to use these plants in my landscape for color and to support the bee and butterfly population we so desperately need to foster.
Bronze Fennel 'Purpureum' (Foeniculum vulgar) is probably a favorite host plant of the Black Swallowtail. I have proof. See pics above!
Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii), Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea), Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea sp), Lantana (Lantana urticoides), Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) and Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) are no brainers for me and bring a lot to the table for our delicate winged friends here in Northeast Texas. Monarch butterflies will like Antelope-Horns Milkweed (Asclepias asperula).
I also found some good references here> www.butterflywebsite.com
Watch for hummingbirds too! They love the red in Autumn Sage!
Cheryl @ Pickle Creek Ranch