Quick Start - Larval Plants

There are pollinator plants...and then there are super pollinator plants. Super pollinator plants do double duty. They provide pollen and nectar, plus they provide larval food for the caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Without the ability to feed their young on the specific native plants required, butterflies and moths can not regenerate. When you plant a garden, consider these double duty native plants to fully support our butterflies and moths. And if you have a favorite butterfly or moth make sure to plant their favorite host plants!

This is not an inclusive list, but enough to get you started. Most native plants, shrubs and trees are host plants for moths and/or butterflies. You can't go wrong with natives.

This list is courtesy of Kim Eierman, author of The Pollinator Victory Garden: Win the war on pollinator decline with ecological landscaping

Trees & Shrubs Caterpillars That Use Them

Acer rubrum (red maple) Cecropia Moth

Amelanchier spp. (serviceberries) Striped Hairstreak

Apios americana (groundnut) Silver Spotted Skipper

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry) Hoary Elfin, Brown Elfin

Aristolochia spp. (pipevine) Pipevine Swallowtail

Asimina triloba (pawpaw) Zebra Swallowtail, Pawpaw Sphinx

Betula spp. (birches) Mourning Cloak, White Admiral, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

Carpinus caroliniana (ironwood) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Striped Hairstreak

Carya spp. (hickory) Banded Hairstreak, Hickory Hairstreak

Ceaonothus americana (New Jersey tea) Summer Azure

Celtis occidentalis (hackberry) Hackberry Emperor, Mourning Cloak, QuestionhMark, American Snout

Chionanthus virginicus (fringetree) Rustic Sphinx

Cornus spp. (dogwoods) Spring Azure, Summer Azure

Crataegus spp. (hawthorns) Striped Hairstreak

Diospyros virginiana (persimmon) Luna Moth

Fagus grandifolia (American beech) Early Hairstreak

Fraxinus spp. (ash) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Hickory Hairstreak, Mourning Cloak, Viceroy

Gleditisa triacanthos (honey locust) Silver Spotted Skipper

Juglans cinerea (butternut) Banded Hairstreak, Hickory Hairstreak

Juglans nigra (black walnut) Banded Hairstreak, Luna Moth, Regal Moth

Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar) Juniper Hairstreak

Lindera benzoin (spicebush) Spicebush Swallowtail

Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Photinia spp. (chokeberries) Coral Hairstreak

Pinus spp. (pines) Eastern Pine Elfin

Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine) Gray Hairstreak

Populus deltoides (cottonwood) Viceroy

Prunus spp. (cherries, plums) Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red Spotted Purple

Quercus spp. (oaks) White-M Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak

Rhus spp. (sumacs) Spring Azure, Summer Azure

Salix spp. (willows) Mourning Cloak, Viceroy

Sassafras albidum (sassafras) Spicebush Swallowtail

Ulmus americana (American elm) Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloak, Question Mark, Painted Lady

Vaccinium spp. (blueberries) Spring Azure, Pink-edged Sulfur, Striped Hairstreak, Henry’s Elfin

Viburnum spp. (viburnums) Spring Azure, Henry’s Elfin

Flowering Perennials Caterpillars That Use Them

Actea racemosa (black cohosh) Spring Azure

Antennaria spp. (pussytoes) Painted Lady

Aquilegia canadensis (columbine) Columbine Duskywing

Aruncus dioicus (goat’s beard) Dusky Azure

Asclepias spp. (milkweeds) Monarch, Queen

Cardamine diphylla (two-leaved toothwort) West Virginia White

Chelone glabra (white turtlehead) Baltimore Checkerspot

Doellingeria umbellata (flat topped aster) Harris’ Checkerspot

Erigeron philadelphicus (fleabane) Northern Metalmark

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry) Grizzled Skipper

Helenium autumnale (sneezeweed) Silvery Checkerspot

Helianthus spp. (sunflowers) Silvery Checkerspot, Gorgone Checkerspot

Lupinus perennis (wild lupine) Karner Blue, Gray Hairstreak, Wild Indigo Duskywing

Mentha spp. (mints) Summer Azure

Mimulus ringens (monkey flower) Common Buckeye, Baltimore

Penstemon hirsutus (hairy beardtongue) Baltimore

Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil) Grizzled Skipper

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan) Gorgone Checkerspot, Bordered Patch

Senna hebecarpa (wild senna) Cloudless Sulphur

Symphyotrichum spp. (asters) Pearl Crescent

Verbena spp. (verbenas) Common Buckeye

Verbesina alternifolia (wingstem) Summer Azure

Viola spp. (violets) Great Spangled Fritillary, Meadow Fritillary

Zizia spp. (alexanders) Black Swallowtail

Grasses and Sedges Caterpillars That Use Them

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) Delaware Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Cobweb Skipper

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) Green Skipper, Sheep Skipper, Dotted Skipper, Orange Skipperling

Carex stricta (tussock sedge) Mulberry Wing, Eyed Brown, Black Dash

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass) Umber Skipper

Elymus hystrix (bottlebrush grass) Northern Pearly Eye, Little Wood Satyr

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) Delaware Skipper, Dotted Skipper

Scirpus cyperinus (wool grass) Dion Skipper

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) Indian Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Cobweb Skipper

Sorgastrum nutans (Indian grass) Pepper and Salt Skipper