Butterfly Gardens Part 2: Did you know……
As a follow-up to last week’s blog about butterfly host plants, we thought we’d add a few more varieties of host plants that are commonly grown in gardens.
In the Smithsonian Gardens’ Butterfly Habitat Garden, visitors often wonder why we’re growing parsley and tomato plants. We tell our visitors that there are a few plants popularly grown in herb and vegetable gardens which are ideal species for hungry caterpillars (which will transform into butterflies and moths)!
Curly parsley is a popular herb that attracts Anise Swallowtails (Papilio zelicaon) and Eastern Black Swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes) in their larval stage.
Tomatoes attract several species of moths; two of them are infamous to experienced back-yard tomato gardeners. Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) and tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) are identified by the “horn” protruding from the rear of the caterpillar. Both are voracious eaters and will munch on tomato foliage and fruit. They are not welcome visitors in most vegetable gardens, but they are invited to dine in the Butterfly Habitat Garden.
If you’re willing to sacrifice some of your herbs and vegetables to sustain a few caterpillars, you will be able to witness the butterfly life cycle just as we do at Smithsonian Gardens!