Optimize Garden Butterflies

Optimize Your Garden for Local Butterflies and Wildlife

Using the following list, you can optimize your gardens or landscaping plans to have greater benefits for local wildlife and butterflies in your area:

By planting species listed as “larval host plants,” you will be providing food resources for the larvae of local butterflies; the larval-host plants listed are native plants that butterflies rely on for survival—this list was cross-referenced with the lists of vegetation native to our area, which can be found in Appendix 1 of Conservation Halton’s “Landscaping and Tree Preservation Guidelines. (opens as pdf)” 

Be sure to use only the listed native plant species to attract and feed butterflies. Even though they might, it is not common for butterflies to feed on non-native and invasive species. Invasive species (such as Crown Vetch [Coronilla varia], which can be purchased at local garden centres) should not be planted anywhere! They can spread rapidly and out compete our native vegetation that provides benefits to many local species. Always research any plant before you purchase and plant it, and never plant an invasive species. By planting species listed as native plants, you will know that they are species local to our area and that they will benefit not only the butterflies that feed on those plants, but also many other species of local insects and wildlife. 

You may want to choose plants that are suitable for more than one species of butterfly. In the Halton butterfly checklist showing butterfly host plants, there is an additional column starting on page 5 that shows the number of Lepidoptera (both butterflies and moths) that have been known to feed on that genus of plant. This information is from Douglas Tallamy’s research and is available on his website that looks at the importance of native gardening for biodiversity.

Douglas Tallamy also wrote a wonderful article, “A call for backyard biodiversity,” on why we should be planting more native plants in our gardens.