Florida is home to a wide variety of beautiful butterflies, and Pinellas County is no exception. Here are some of the native plants that are most commonly used by butterflies in the area.
- Milkweed – Milkweed is one of the most important plants for butterflies, as it is the only host plant for the Monarch butterfly. In addition to the Monarch, other species of butterflies such as the Queen and Soldier Butterflies also use milkweed as a host plant. Some of the most common types of milkweed found in Pinellas County include the Tuberosa Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, and Perennis Milkweed.
- Maypop and Corky Stem Passionflower – The Passionflower is a host plant for the Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwing butterfly, which are commonly seen in Pinellas County. The plant’s unique, intricate flowers are also a nectar source for many other butterfly species. Plant in shade to attract more Zebra Longwing or in sun for Gulf Fritillary.
- Privet and Bahama Cassia – The Cassia plant is a host plant for the Sulphur butterfly, which is one of the most common butterfly species in Florida. The plant’s bright yellow flowers also attract a wide variety of nectar-feeding butterflies. These are perfect for sunny, dry areas of the yard.
- Sea Oats – Sea Oats are an important plant for coastal habitats and are also a host plant for the Ceraunus Blue butterfly. The grass-like plant provides shelter and food for a variety of insects, including several species of butterfly.
- Oaks – Oaks are considered a keystone species because they host the most diverse number of butterflies. There are many different species of oaks all hosting both unique and common butterfly species. The different seasons will bring in different caterpillars, many munching on the living tissue, but some staying at ground level to eat the fallen dead leaves. Oaks are critical for sustaining and stabilizing our environment
- Natives! – Many moth species are opportunistic and will find a host on many of our native plants. There is still much to learn about these generalist species, but chances are, if you plant with natives, you will in some way benefit our many moth and butterfly populations and therefore many other animals!
These are just a few examples of the many native plants that are important for butterfly conservation in Pinellas County. By planting these and other native plants in your yard or garden, you can help support local butterfly populations and create a beautiful natural habitat for these important pollinators.