The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. ~Rabindranath Tagore
It’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, and migrating butterflies are on the move. Monarchs are probably the most famous lepidopteral nomads, but now’s a good time to see more than just monarchs. In my yard lately, I’m seeing monarchs, several types of sulphurs, black swallowtails, grey hairstreaks, and American painted ladies. In past years I’ve also seen plenty of common buckeyes and several kinds of skippers.
To attract butterflies to your autumn garden, be sure to have nectar plants for the adult butterflies and host plants for their caterpillars. Some good nectar sources for this time of year are goldenrod, tithonia, sedums, and Montauk daisies and other autumn-blooming composites, such as asters. Host plants include milkweed, New Jersey tea, and members of the carrot family such as parsley, fennel, and Queen Anne’s lace.
After this season winds down, I’ll put together more info on creating a butterfly garden so you can prepare for next season. In the meantime, check out Butterflies and Moths of North America. If you live outside North America, use your favorite search engine to search on “butterflies of [continent]”, where [continent] is the name of the continent you live on. And go out and enjoy the lovely fluttery beauties that are visiting your neighborhood!