As wildlife gardeners, we sometimes fall into the trap of focusing on the big and the beautiful, especially when it comes to butterflies. For example, the Swallowtail butterflies get lots of attention because they are so large that you can’t miss them. And they’re quite beautiful too, especially the Tiger Swallowtail with it’s iconic bold black and yellow coloring.
Monarch butterflies receive a lot of attention because they’re so gorgeous and they make an amazing migratory journey every year.
But there are so many smaller butterflies that are also quite beautiful and are easy to attract to your ecosystem garden. One of these is the Pearl Crescent, one of my favorites, which will continue to be seen in your wildlife garden through the fall.
Adult butterflies will nectar at a variety of plants, including the Ascelpias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) pictured here. So provide a wide assortment of native nectar plants that bloom from spring through the end of fall to attract Pearl Crescents to your wildlife garden.
But if you really want these butterflies to hang around, you need to provide their host plant for them to lay their eggs on. In the case of the Pearl Crescent, this is quite easy because the host plant for this butterfly is asters. There are so many native asters to choose from that you should have no trouble at all attracting them.
My favorites include:
- New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
- White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus)
- Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius)
- New York Aster (Aster novae-belgii)
- Note: due to a recent taxonomic change, the scientific name of the asters is now Symphyotrichum, so you may find plants with that name as opposed to “Aster”
You don’t even need to have a large wildlife garden, you can create a very welcoming wildlife habitat garden using containers, too. Here’s some tips for small space butterfly gardening:
Do you have Pearl Crescents in your wildlife garden? What’s your favorite native aster?