Spring has sprung!

In parts of the world, it is now spring and gardens are growing.  Butterflies are flying, laying eggs, caterpillars are eating, and warm weather is the new normal.

We’ve weeded most of our garden and mulch was spread Saturday.  Although there isn’t much bloom yet, there is enough for butterflies to enjoy the garden.  Quite a bit of the garden still needs to be weeded.

(All photos are from previous years.)

Persimmon tree
Persimmon tree for us and for the butterflies that like fruit

We fenced in the garden, 150’x150′, with 7′ tall fencing because of deer.  They eat so many of our plants.  In the garden we grow fruit trees, vegetables, but primarily butterfly host and nectar plants.

Our garden: a photo from a previous year
Our garden: a photo from a previous year

I haven’t seen a hummingbird yet but I did hear one as I worked near the flowering bottlebrush shrubs.  We normally have hummingbirds in the garden every day, enjoying some of the same nectar plants that long-proboscis butterflies enjoy.

Hummingbird with salvia
Hummingbird with salvia
A hummingbird tries to drink from an ornamental flower

Eggs and/or caterpillars are beginning to appear on our property:

  • Cloudless sulphur on cassia
  • Spicebush swallowtail eggs on camphor tree
  • Gulf fritillary eggs and caterpillars on passion vine, both maypop and Lady Margaret
  • Red admiral eggs and caterpillars on pellitory
  • American lady caterpillars in cudweed, which we specifically leave growing in the garden when it appears
  • Pipevine eggs on the tiny native Virginia snakeroot
  • Giant swallowtail eggs on Hercules’ club

This year we’re planting even more passion vine, more pipevine, more hollyhock (for tropical checkered white butterflies), and of course, more milkweed.  We haven’t had monarch eggs or caterpillars in the garden yet.

The flowering portion of the garden
The flowering portion of the garden

Now that it is spring, what are your plans for this year’s butterfly garden?  Please let us know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Spring has sprung!

  1. Hello Edith,

    I do enjoy your notes on butterflies as I have raised many species from my back years.

    I also give talks on gardening for butterflies.

    I am puzzled by your statement on using the camphor tree for spice Bush swallowtails.

    The camphor and lindera tree are two different species of tree. I have not been able to find where spicebush Swallowtails host on camphor trees. I do know they host on lindera which we call the spicebush tree.

    Please can you clear this up for me?

    Thank you,

    Annie Britton

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should have explained more about the camphor tree, first, because it is considered invasive. There are several growing on property a mile from ours. Every now and then I find a little tree and put it in a pot to use when raising the caterpillars indoors in popup habitats. I planted a small one in my garden and it stays trimmed, never allowed to grow large and seed.

      Yes, they do host on camphor trees! We found caterpillars on them in the wild, which surprised me. We like using them for the farm because they stay green all winter, making it easier for us when we have spicebush swallowtail and palamedes swallowtail butterflies emerge too soon in late winter or early spring, before bay puts on leaves. The little trees (in pots for the farm) grow bushy and we can cut them back repeatedly and it works great in popup habitats.

      It has been documented. One of the places that mention is it this University of Florida web page. https://entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/spicebush_swallowtail.htm


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