GreenGrass Blog

Landscape Tips - How To Attract Butterflies

Posted by Kathy Wilder on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 @ 11:21 AM

blue butterflies

As you’re planning planting for spring color, remember that butterflies add the perfect touch to a beautiful lawn and luscious landscape.  But how do you invite them over?


Do a Little Homework

Find out what butterflies are native to your area so you can choose native plants to attract them.  There are 20,000 species of butterflies worldwide, about 600 in the contiguous U.S.  You’ll find an average of 100 species in one place, less toward the north, and more toward Mexico.  Here in Oklahoma, we have Spicebush Swallowtails (Papilio troilus) and Funereal Duskywings (Erynnis funeralis) and Dotted Checkerspots (Poladryas minuta) and Great Spangled Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele.)  



Choose Plants That Will Attract Them

You’ll need both nectar plants for the adult butterflies and host plants for caterpillars to eat.  Butterflies lay their eggs on host plants, because the tiny caterpillars can’t go far to find something to eat.  You might want to have a “host plot” with plants for the babies to eat, so you don’t have plants front & center that are chewed-on.  This can be a great project for kids!  Feel free to plant the nectar plants in full sight, so you can enjoy the butterflies.


butterfly on flower sm

Oklahoma nectar plants include:


  • Butterfly bush
  • Delphinium
  • Cosmos
  • Lantana
  • Phlox



Oklahoma host plants include:

  • Chokecherry
  • Pansies
  • Sunflowers
  • Hollyhock
  • Dill 
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
Check out this beautiful picture of a Southern Dogface Butterfly taken by Alan Hochman.  And another of a Monarch on Butterfly Weed!


The butterfly plant or butterfly flower or butterfly weed (all the same thing) is not only a good nectar plant, but also a good host plant.  Moreover, it has pretty flowers and it’s deer-resistant.


Lay out some rocks in sunny locations.

Butterflies will come and rest on them, since they’re cold-blooded – the sun warms the rock and the rocks heats up their little feet.  Did you know that butterflies’ sense of taste is in their feet?


Is it a moth or a butterfly? A butterfly's antenna have knobs on the ends.  A moth's antenna don't.  Almost always, butterflies fly around in the day, and moths fly around at night.  Almost always, butterflies hold their wings up when at rest, moths lay their wings flat.  Now you know!


Here’s a great site for butterfly research including which species are in your state and what plants attract each species –

Another site with good info –

Topics: butterflies, attracting with plants