I’ve seen three types of butterflies in my garden over the past two days – Monarch, Gulf Fritillary and Cloudless Sulphur. All three are repeat visitors. Swallowtails are in and out as well. But never have a seen a Red Admiral in my garden, and I really want to. I’ve spotted two in the past few weeks – one by the office and one in our neighborhood. Both times I was walking Luke without my camera. Their wing pattern is unmistakable; it took me no time to come home and identify the first one. The reddish orange band is eye-catching even from afar. This photograph is courtesy of Flickr member Mollivan Jon.
Red Admirals fall under the brushfooted butterfly category. I’d love to attract them to my garden, but according to Florida Butterfly Gardening, ”Garden abundance is low to moderate” (101). One reason for this may be their choice of host plants. Red Admiral caterpillars feed on the leaves of Pellitory and Nettle varieties, neither of which are commonly used in landscaping. They also prefer open, moist areas like swamps, hammocks and marshes.
It’s probably best for me to simply try to feed them. Butterfly Bush is a favorite nectar source for Red Admirals, and I have just the spot for one. It’s also better than their favorite non-nectar alternatives – two things I prefer to remove from the garden – fermenting fruit and fresh dung. Yep, I’ll definitely try the Butterfly Bush.
This photo is from Robin’s Robins; the Butterfly Bush in her yard seems to be doing the trick:
Minno, Marc C., and Maria Minno. Florida Butterfly Gardening: A Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Enjoying Butterflies of the Lower South. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999.