Cheryl Harner's Flora and Butterfly Blog
Weedpicker's Journal: Discover the native plants of Ohio and the butterflies that utilize them.
Wanted: native nectar August 19, 2008

Native plants can be tricky business. The more one understands the relationships between insects and the plants they co-evolved utilizing, the more you'll value our native plants. However, it can be daunting decoding which species are native, which are imports and which have been hybridized. Tallamy has great suggestions along those lines, and I highly recommend his book Bringing Nature Home.

While I am not suggesting ripping out every non-native landscape plant you own, I do suggest trying to buy natives and using them whenever possible. The decorative hanging planters outside my porch is my one hold-out for non-native annuals. I want that splash of color that will last all summer, and nothing performs like flowering annuals. This year I decided to incorporate some Lantana to attract hummingbirds and look who else has an affinity for Lantana: Giant Swallowtails.

The largest of Ohio's butterflies, these 7 inch beauties have been gracing the baskets on a steady basis; I have counted up to three nectaring at one time! Black is the predominate color on the dorsal (above) wings and yet I am often stunned at how yellow they appear from the ventral ( lower) side. These beasts are guaranteed to cause jaw-dropping in any of our visitors lucky enough to witness this spectacle.

Considered uncommon to occasional, they are not known to be tolerant of urbanization. The key to keeping this creature is providing their host plant: Prickly-ash. Fortunately, our wooded yard is lined with an understory of these gentle giant's favored larval food. A non-descript shrub with prickles would normally be eradicated from one's landscape, but knowing the connection between the plant and the occurrence of the Giants: the Prickly-ash stays! Now if I could find an appropriate native-to-the-states Lantana, my garden of Eden would be complete.

2008-08-19 11:20:08 GMT
Add to My Yahoo! RSS