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Butterfly Plants & Mississippi Butterflies

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Publication Number: IS1661
Updated: July 17, 2018
View as PDF: IS1661.pdf

Butterflies and their host plants are intricately tied to one another. Generally, there are two types of plants that you must have in your garden for butterflies. One is a nectar plant (or plants); adult butterflies feed on these nectar plants. The second plant you must have is a larval host plant; the immature stage (larva) feeds on this plant.  

When you plan a butterfly garden, you should plan for both types of plants. This information sheet lists both types of plants and some of the butterflies we can expect to see in Mississippi.

Many kinds of butterflies will usually visit the nectar plants, but you must be careful when choosing a larval host plant if you want to attract a particular species of butterfly. Also, remember the larval plant will be eaten, so expect that to happen and plan accordingly. 

Selected Nectar Plants For Mississippi Butterfly Gardens

Angel's Trumpet – Datura meteloides
Bee Balm – Monarda didyma
Black-Eyed-Susan – Rudbeckia spp.
Butterfly Bush – Buddleia davidii
Cardinal Flower – Lobelia cardinalis
Cleome – Cleome pungens
Common Mallow – Malva neglecta
Coneflower – Echinacea spp.
Coreopsis – Coreopsis spp.
Cosmos – Cosmos spp.
Dame's Rocket – Hesperis matronalis
Dogwood – Cornus florida
Frikart Aster – Aster x Frikartii
Garden Phlox – Phlox paniculata
Gayfeathers – Liatris spp.
Glossy Abelia – Abeliax grandiflora
Goldenrod – Solidago spp.
Gomphrena – Gomphrena globosa
Hardy Ageratum – Conoclinium coelestinum
Hibiscus – Hibiscus spp.
Hollyhock – Alcea rosea
Hollyhock Mallow – Malva alcea
Joe-Pye Weed – Eupatorium purpureum
Lantana – Lantana spp.
Milkweed – Asclepias spp.
Musk Mallow – Malva moschata
Ox-Eye Daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare
Passion Flower – Passiflora incarnata
Pentas – Pentas lanceloata
Queen-Anne's-Lace – Daucus carota
Sages – Salvia spp.
Shasta Daisies – Leucanthemum superbum
Showy Sedum – Sedum spectabile
Spicebush – Lindera benzoin
Swamp Sunflower – Helianthus angustifolius
Sweet William – Dianthus barbatus
Verbena – Verbena spp.
Willow – Salix spp.
Yarrows – Achillea spp.
Zinnia – Zinnia spp.

Selected Larval Plants For Mississippi Butterfly Gardens

Anise Hyssop – Agastache foeniculum
Black Cherry – Prunus serotina
Common Mallow – Malva neglecta
Dill Weed – Anethum graveolens
Dogwood – Cornus florida
Dutchman's pipe – Aristolochia durior
Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare
Frikart Aster – Aster x Frikartii
Hollyhock – Alcea rosea
Hollyhock Mallow – Malva alcea
Milkweed – Asclepias spp.
Mullein – Verbascum spp.
Nasturtium – Nasturtium spp.
New England Asters – Aster novae-angliae
Parsley – Petroselinum crispum
Passion Flower – Passiflora incarnata
Pawpaw – Asimina triloba
Queen-Anne's-Lace – Daucus carota
Rue – Ruta graveolus
Sassafras – Sassafras albidum
Spicebush – Lindera benzoin
Sweet Bay – Magnolia virginiana
Verbena – Verbena spp.
Willow – Salix spp.

Host plants ensure food sources for butterfly species. When the plants are available for both larva and adults, they will come. Feeders, water, and mineral sources can provide additional incentives for butterflies to visit and remain in the garden area.

Common Butterflies Found in Mississippi

American Painted Lady – Vanessa virginiensis
Buckeye – Junonia coenia
Comma – Polygonia comma
Gulf Fritillary – Agraulis vanillae
Hackberry – Asterocampa celtis
Mourning Cloak – Nymphalis antiopa
Painted Lady – Vanessa cardui
Pearly Crescentspot – Phyciodes tharos
Question Mark – Polygonia interrogationis
Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta
Red-spotted Purple – Basilarchia astyanax
Viceroy – Basilarchia archippus
Brown Elfin – Insicalia augustinus
Eastern Pygmy Blue – Brephidium isophthalma
Gray Hairstreak – Strymon melinus
Silvery Blue – Glaucopsyche lygdamus
Spring Azure – Celastrina ladon
Monarch – Danaus plexippus
Queen – Danaus gilippus
Large Wood Nymph – Ceryonis pegala
Common Checkered Skipper – Pyrgus communis
Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus
Tawney-edged skipper – Polites themistocles
Eastern Black Swallowtail – Papilio polyxenes
Giant Swallowtail – Papilio cresphontes
Pipevine Swallowtail – Battus philenor
Spicebush Swallowtail – Papilio troilus
Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus
Zebra Swallowtail – Eurytides marcellus
Cabbage White – Pieris rapae
Checkered White – Pontia protodice
Cloudless Giant Sulfur – Phoebis sennae
Common Sulphur – Colias philodice
Dogface butterfly – Zerene cesonia
Falcate Orangetip – Anthocharis midea
Orange Sulphur – Colias eurytheme
Sleepy Orange – Eurema nicippe

For more information on butterflies, visit these web sites:

Information Sheet 1661 (POD-01-16)

Revised by John Guyton, EdD, Associate Extension Professor and Entomology Specialist, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology; and Terence Schiefer, Research Associate, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology. Originally compiled by Michael Williams, PhD, former Extension Entomology Specialist, and Lelia Kelly, PhD, former Extension Professor.


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