Aug 22

I Have Butterflies

Some of nature’s won­ders require that you stop, pause and look closely. This isn’t one of them. There’s a rea­son the Bud­dleia is called a but­ter­fly bush. It’s cov­ered in swal­low­tail butterflies!

This but­ter­fly bush is the Bud­dleia davidii ‘White Splen­dour’ (I think). It is approx­i­mately 8′ in diam­e­ter and nearly 10′ tall. It was relo­cated a cou­ple of years ago to a more roomy loca­tion because I didn’t believe it could pos­si­bly grow this big.

All sum­mer long the but­ter­flies are numer­ous and indus­tri­ous in our gar­den. It’s one of the rea­sons I grow dill but hardly ever get to eat any. The cater­pil­lars eat it all. Glut­tons. Glo­ri­ous gluttons.

By far the East­ern Tiger Swal­low­tails out­num­ber the other but­ter­flies. But we also have Painted Admi­rals, Black Swal­low­tails and—the glo­ri­ous Zebra Swal­low­tail. (You can see those in the video below.)

A while back a friend of mine was envy­ing our pro­lific Paw­paw patch because it is host to the lar­val Zebra Swal­low­tail. If you don’t know Paw­paws, they are a  fruit tree native to North Amer­ica. The fruit of the Paw­paw is rather sweet and mushy. For some it’s an acquired taste. But Zebra Swal­low­tails just love Paw­paws.  In fact, it is also called the Paw­paw butterfly.

I wish I were a bet­ter pho­tog­ra­pher and video­g­ra­pher to share how the bush comes alive. This is def­i­nitely one of nature’s big­ger shows in my garden.


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12 Responses to “I Have Butterflies”

  1. Frances Says:

    So many but­ter­flies! How won­der­ful that scene must be. It would be hard for me to go inside and leave it. The Zebras are delightful!

  2. Gail Says:

    It’s a splen­did sight Robin. I can only imag­ine that many but­ter­flies in one spot. I count myself lucky to have sev­eral vis­it­ing the gar­den at once. I just tasted my first paw-paw; it has a pleas­ant taste but filled with a lot of seeds. gail

  3. Jodie Says:

    Amaz­ing. So beau­ti­ful. I want to really work on my but­ter­fly gar­den this fall.

  4. cristina Says:

    absolutely amaz­ing. i have never seen so many but­ter­flies in a sin­gle place.

  5. Susan Says:

    Do you prune your bud­dleia very much? And do you keep it dead­headed? Mine just quits bloom­ing if I don’t dead­head reli­giously, which I often don’t. Also, is yours in full sun or does it have a lit­tle bit of shade?

  6. Robin Ripley Says:

    Hi Susan,
    No, I don’t prune this bud­dleia at all. It’s just too huge. There is a smaller one near the house (I have sev­eral) that I think I will try prun­ing next year to see if it per­forms bet­ter. But this one just keep grow­ing and push­ing out the flow­ers. I cut it way, way back each spring. Because of its size, it’s a process that now requires a full-sized saw. But that’s the best way to treat it.

    Thanks for visiting!


  7. Country Flora Says:

    Hi Robin,

    Is that a sin­gle lens reflex you used in that click?

  8. Layanee Says:

    Wow. You are but­ter­fly rich. I am won­der­ing if they like the white bb best. My daugh­ter has one and it is also cov­ered with but­ter­flies. My pink has them here and there. The video is a nice treat.

  9. aurora @ out door living area Says:

    What amaz­ing shots. You’ve man­aged to cap­ture the very essence and beauty of my favourite insect. It’s so sad that these lovely crea­tures have such a short life span.

  10. Lawn care Oviedo Says:

    Love the post about swal­low tail but­ter­flies. Dill is good food for but­ter­flies I didn’t know that learned some­thing good today. Thank you for sharing

  11. Plant Stands Says:

    Thanks for shar­ing the abun­dance of all those beau­ti­ful butterflies!

  12. sensiblegardening Says:

    But­ter­fly bushes are quite lovely. Mar­gin­ally hardy where I gar­den though. Appar­ently in some areas of south­ern USA they are now con­sid­ered a nui­sance plant and they encour­age peo­ple not to grow them. Too much of a good thing I guess.

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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