An adult butterfly may nectar on a wide variety of flowers, but caterpillars are much more restricted in their food sources. Some feed on only a limited number of plant species, so female butterflies seek out these specific plants to lay their eggs. For example, the host plants for Monarch caterpillars are various species of milkweed. Often, these plants are not the same as the ones the adult butterfly will later use for nectar.
Learning more about the plants caterpillars need is crucial for butterfly conservation. Butterflies’ dependency on specific caterpillar host plants is one of the key factors restricting their range and distribution. Armed with this knowledge, readers can also hone their ability to find specific species of breeding butterflies in nature. This is a handy guide whether you are in the field searching for butterflies or on the hunt for butterfly-friendly options at your local plant sale.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press