The caterpillars of Swallowtails eat only the leaves of Umbelliferous plants such as Golden Alexanders (Zizea aurea), Angelica, Queen Anne’s Lace, Coriander, Dill, and Parsley; one year I had 2 caterpillars eat all the leaves off a potted parsley plant next to my back door. (I wish I had taken a picture.)
Sulfur caterpillars are fond of legumes such as Purple Prairie Clover (Petalostemon purpureum), Wild Indigo (Baptisia), and Lead Plant (Amorpha canacens).
Painted Lady caterpillars chew on legumes and members of the Aster/Sunflower/Daisy family.
For more information on attracting Butterflies and their Caterpillars to your garden, check out my book, Design Your Natural Midwest Garden, beginning on page 56.
On page 63 I have a design for a Butterfly Garden, which inspired a neighborhood in my town to build a butterfly garden. I took this photograph last week
1 year ago–the garden was 1 year old.
Crucial for a neighborhood native plant garden?
Commitment from one or several people to water and weed for the first 2-3 years, and after that a yearly controlled burn.
For those of you who live in or near Elgin, visit the gardens at the corner of Douglas Ave. and Ann St. in the northeast end. The garden on the corner is a formal garden; the garden in back of it is the one you want to visit–it is made up entirely of native prairie plants. I urge Wild Ones groups and Garden Clubs in the Chicago area to make a special trip. Contact me and I can arrange for someone to meet you there to explain the history of the garden.
PS: Pick up the latest Chicagoland Gardening magazine–the September/ October issue. It features an article about Asters (on page 24) written by April Anderson, the naturalist at Elgin’s Hawthorn Hill’s Nature Center. She interviewed me and also Neil Diboll about our favorite asters. In addition, it features a photograph of the front of my bungalow in September with all its myriad of asters.