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Plan Now for a Caterpillar, Butterfly Habitat in Spring

| 9/24/2018 11:12:00 AM

A viceroy caterpillar munches on cottonwood leaves.

Just the other day, I was outside watering my new cottonwood tree, when I saw this odd-looking little caterpillar. It was brown and white with tiny spike-like horns. I plucked the leaf from the tree and walked over to the barn where my husband was doing a bit of end-of-summer cleaning. We chatted about the caterpillar, neither one of us ever seeing one like this.

So I took a picture of the caterpillar to send to my friend, Samantha. She’s the first one I think of when I have a question regarding anything creepy-crawly, and I mean that in the best possible way. She’s a super-cool lady, interested in all things nature and is a licensed trapper. I knew she'd be the one who could tell me more about this little guy.

Within just a few minutes, Samantha responded that what I had in a jar on my kitchen counter was a viceroy caterpillar. I read over the link she sent me, and showed Fletcher and Emery the pictures of the butterfly it will become. What a beauty!

After reading that the viceroy caterpillars eat primarily cottonwood and willow leaves, it got me to thinking about creating a whole habitat area just for butterflies. And the next day while the kids and I waited for the school bus, we talked about digging up a few flower bed areas around our cottonwood tree to plant flowers that host and feed caterpillars and butterflies.

Plants for Caterpillars

A successful butterfly garden should have plants for all stages of their lifecycle. There are plants specific for feeding larvae and adult butterflies, and it’s a good idea to include a variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees to attract a number of species to your property.

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