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Butterfly and Moth Compendium

This post catalogs butterflies and moths found in our yard in Durham, NC. Providing nectar and host plants plus avoiding insecticides and herbicides such as pre-emergents produce the best conditions for your flying beauties. I've included Common Host plants in our yard or area for each. I'll be adding photos as I record more species or better photos.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Common Host plants: Spicebush and Sassafras We must have these nearby as we see quite a few Spicebush swallowtails. Our butterfly bushes attract them.

Spicebush swallowtail feeding on butterfly bush

Note that one orange dot is missing. It's replaced by the oblong marker which is a helpful identifier. Compare the underwing dots to the photos of the Eastern Black Swallowtail.

Spicebush swallowtail feeding on butterfly bush

Eastern Black Swallowtail

Common Host plants: dill, parsley

We have quite a crop of caterpillars in the herb garden each year. The Eastern Black has beautiful yellow spots edging the wings.

This shot is a favorite as the swallowtail appears to be looking at a small caterpillar on the parsley.

Eastern Black swallowtail feeding on butterfly bush.

Future Black Swallowtail butterflies feeding on the dill.

Red Spotted Purple

Common Host plant: Black Cherry tree

Buckeye butterfly

Common Host Plant: cudweed

These were very plentiful in our garden a few years ago. I wondered if neighbors spraying for mosquitos had affected the buckeyes. Now, that I have a better understanding of how many common "weeds" are host plants I have a different explanation. The yard next door went unmowed most of the time before we purchased the property. No one was living there for four years. We had a meadow next door. I was happy to see the return of the buckeyes this year (2018). We mow every other week, but there are some weeds that are around in some spaces, like the cudweed.

Buckeye feeding on blush colored tall sedum.

They seem to prefer the yellow pincushion flowers to the lantana hedge.

Feeding on Dahlia, Teesbrooke Audrey

Painted Lady

Common Host plant: Yarrow (achillea millefolium) There are other host plants, but I'm listing the one that I'm familiar with here. We have plenty of yarrow.

They love the lantana hedge.

Variegated Fritillary- Birth of a Variegated Fritillary

Common Host plants: wild violets, passion vine We have plenty of both in our yard.

Nectar plant yellow pincushion flower (columbaria var ochroleuca)

These will reseed. These are perfect for cottage or meadow style gardens. The bees and gold finches love them too.

Variegated Fritillary and Butterfly

Variegated fritillary feeding on cone flower (echinacea).

Gulf Fritillary

Common Host plant: Passion Flower (May pop)

We transplanted passion flower vines from my mother's yard last year. They can be invasive, but this year I have seen two Gulf Fritillaries about a week after Hurricane Florence came in Sept. 2018. My understanding is that Gulf Fritillaries are more common around the NC coastal plain. So was this a visit from butterflies escaping Florence or are the Passion Vines being used? We'll find out next year. The photos were taken on a cloudy day.

A macro shot. Initially, you might think the Gulf Fritillary is a Monarch or Viceroy. The body with the rust and white is a clear differentiator.

Note the white markings on the underside of the wings.


Common Host plant: Milkweed (various varieties)

I have planted milkweed in my yard and next door. Unfortunately, beetles stripped the asclepia tuberosa bare. They remind me of souped up lady bugs, larger with bright orange and black markings.

I think our Monarchs are using the nectar plants only as pickings are slim for their host plant. The variety next door is Milkmaid, asclpeias incarnata. They haven't bloomed yet, but they have survived a mite infestation. Summer of 2018 is their first year here.

Pearly Crescent

Common Host plant: Asters

This small butterfly (approx. 1 inch) is enjoying the Mercury Rising coreopsis.