Butterfly Plants

Larval Host Plants - The larvae of some butterflies have very specific host plant requirements. For example the Karner Blue can only develop its larvae on lupine. Other butterflies can use members of a particular genus such as the Summer Azure's use of plants in the genus Rhus. In other cases a wider range of host plants can be used.

Scientific Names (Plants) Common Names (Plants) Common Name (Butterflies)
Actinomeris alternifolia Wing Stem Silvery Checkerspot
Amelanchier spp. Serviceberry Striped Hairstreak
Amorpha canescens Leadplant Southern Dogface, Northern Cloudywing
Amphicarpaea bracteata Hog-Peanut Northern Cloudywing
Anaphalis margaritacea Pearly Everlasting American Lady
Andropogon gerardii Big Bluestem Cobweb Skipper, Dusted Skipper
Angelica atropurpurea Angelica Black Swallowtail
Antennaria spp. Pussytoes American Lady
Aquilegia canadensis Columbine Columbine Duskywing
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry Brown Elfin, Hoary Elfin
Aristolochia serpentaria Virginia Snakeroot Pipevine Swallowtail
Asclepias spp. Various Milkweeds Monarch
Asimina triloba Pawpaw Zebra Swallowtail
Aster spp. Asters Pearl Crescent, Silvery Checkerspot, Painted Lady, Gorgone Checkerspot, Northern Crescent
Aster umbellatus Flat-Topped White Aster Harris's Checkerspot
Baptisia tinctoria Wild Indigo Wild Indigo Duskywing
Betula spp. Birch Mourning Cloak,Compton Tortoiseshell, White Admiral, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Dreamy Duskywing
Carex lacustris Sedge Appalachian Eyed Brown
Carex spp. Sedges Eyed Brown, Chryus Arctic, Appalachian Brown, Black Dash, Dion Skipper, Broad Winged Skipper, Mulberry Wing, Dun Skipper
Carya spp. Hickory Banded Hairstreak, Hickory Hairstreak
Ceanothus americanus New Jersey Tea Summer Azure, Mottled Duskywing
Celtis occidentalis Hackberry Snout Butterfly, Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, American snout
Celtis tenuifolia Dwarf Hackberry American Snout
Chamaedaphne calyculata Leatherleaf Brown Elfin
Chelone glabra Turtlehead Baltimore Checkerspot
Cirsium muticum Swamp Thistle Swamp Metalmark
Cirsium spp. Thistle Painted Lady
Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood Spring Azure
Cornus racemosa Gray Dogwood Spring Azure
Cornus spp. Dogwoods Summer Azure
Crataegus spp. Hawthorn Striped Hairstreak
Desmodium canadense Showy Tick Trefoil Eastern Tailed-Blue
Eleocharis elliptica Golden-Seeded Spike Rush Poweshiek Skipperling
Elymus hystrix Bottlebrush Grass Northern Pearly Eye, Little Wood Satyr
Fragaria virginiana Wild Strawberry Grizzled Skipper
Gerardia spp. False Foxglove Buckeye, Baltimore
Gleditsia triacanthos Honey Locust Silver-spotted Skipper
Glyceria striata Graceful Grass Pepper and Salt Skipper, Appalachian Brown
Gnaphalium obtusifolium Sweet Everlasting American Lady
Helenium autumnale Sneezeweed Silvery Checkerspot
Helianthus spp. Sunflowers Silvery Checkerspot, Gorgone Checkerspot
Juglans cinerea Butternut Banded Hairstreak, Hickory Hairstreak
Juglans nigra Black Walnut Banded Hairstreak
Kalmia angustifolia Sheep-Laurel Brown Elfin
Leersia oryzoides Rice Cut Grass Least Skipper, Peck's Skipper, Hobomok Skipper
Lespedeza spp; Bush Clovers Gray Hairstreak, Southern Cloudywing
Lindera Benzoin Spicebush Spicebush Swallowtail
Liriodendron tulipifera Tulip Poplar Tiger Swallowtail
Lupinus perennis Lupine Karner Blue, Froster Elfin, Gray Hairstreak, Persius Duskywing, Wild Indigo Duskywing
Mentha spp. Mint Summer Azure
Panicum clandestinum Panic Grass Least Skipper
Panicum virgatum Switch Grass Delaware Skipper
Pinus spp. Pine Eastern Pine Elfin
Populus deltoides Cottonwood Viceroy
Populus spp. Aspen Common Tortoiseshell, Mourning Cloak, White Admiral, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Dreamy Duskywing
Potentilla fruiticosa Shrubby Cinquefoil Dorcas Copper
Prunus americana Wild Plum Coral Hairstreak, Tiger Swallowtail
Prunus serotina Black Cherry Coral Hairstreak, Tiger Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, Spring Azure
Prunus spp. Striped Hairstreak
Prunus virginiana Choke Cherry Coral Hairstreak, Tiger Swallowtail
Ptelea trifoliata Hop Tree Giant Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail
Quercus spp. Oaks Banded Hairstreak, White M Hairstreak, Juvenal's Duskywing, Sleepy Duskywing, Horace's Duskywing, Hickory Hairstreak, Edward's Hairstreak
Rhus spp. Sumac Summer Azure
Ribes spp. Gooseberry sp. Gray Common
Rudbeckia hirta Black-Eyed Susan Gorgone Checkerspot
Rumex orbiculatus Great Water Dock Purplish Copper, Bronze Copper
Salix spp. Willow Compton Tortoiseshell, Acadian Hairstreak, Viceroy, Mourning Cloak, Dreamy Duskywing
Sassafras albidum Sassafras Spicebush Swallowtail
Schizachyrium scoparius Little Bluestem Indian Skipper, Crossline Skipper, Cobweb Skipper, Hobomok Skipper, Dusted Skipper
Senna hebecarpa Wild Senna Cloudless Sulphur
Sorghastrum nutans Indian Grass Pepper and Salt Skipper
Spartina pectinata Prairie Cordgrass Least Skipper
Spiraea spp. Spiraea Summer Azure
Ulmus spp. Elm Mourning Cloak, Question Mark, Eastern Comma
Umbelliferae Black Swallowtail
Urtica spp. Nettle Question Mark, Eastern Comma, Red Admiral, Milberts Tortoise Shell
Vaccinium spp. Blueberry Northern Spring Azure, Pink-edged Sulphur
Vaccinium spp. Cranberry Bog Copper
Verbesina alternifolia Wingstem Summer Azure
Viburnum acerifolium Maple Leaf Viburnum Spring Azure
Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood Viburnum Baltimore Checkerspot
Viburnum spp. Spring Azure, Henry's Elfin
Viola spp. Violets Great Spangled Fritillary, Aphrodite Fritillary, Silver-bordered Fritillary, Meadow Fritillary
Zanthoxylum americanum Prickly Ash Giant Swallowtail
Legumes Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Eastern Tailed-Blue
Various Grasses Common Wood Nymph
Nectaring Plants
Butterflies and skippers do not have the same host specificity for nectaring sources as they do for larval host. Use this guide very generally as you are likely to see a great range of butterflies using a variety of flowers for nectar.
Scientific Names (Plants) Common Names (Plants) Common Names (Butterflies)
Amorpha canescens Leadplant Coral Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak
Anaphalis margaritacea Pearly Everlasting Silver-bordered Fritillary
Apocynum spp. Dogbane Coral Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Summer Azure, Great Spangled Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Baltimore, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, American Lady, Buckeye, White Admiral, Monarch, Red-spotted Purple
Asclepias incarnata Swamp Milkweed Banded Hairstreak, Eyed Brown
Asclepias syriaca Common Milkweed Pipevine Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak, Summer Azure, Great Spangled Fritillary, Aphrodite Fritillary, Silvery Checkerspot, Baltimore, American Lady, Red Admiral, Little Wood Satyr, Common Wood-Nymph
Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly Weed Spicebush Swallowtail, Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Variegated Fritillary, Silvery Checkerspot, Pearl Crescent
Aster spp. Aster Eastern Tailed-Blue, Silver-bordered Fritillary, American Lady, Buckeye, Viceroy, Common Wood Nymph
Ceanothus americanus New Jersey Tea Spicebush Swallowtail, Purplish Copper, Coral Hairstreak, Summer Azure, Karner Blue, Great Spangled Fritillary
Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush Giant Swallowtail, Painted Lady, Common Wood Nymph
Cercis canadensis Redbud assorted butterflies
Cirsium muticum Swamp Thistle Swamp Metalmark, Baltimore
Coreopsis lanceolata Sand Coreopsis assorted butterflies
Coreopsis tripteris Tall Tickseed assorted butterflies
Cornus alternifolia Alternate Leaf Dogwood assorted butterflies
Cornus amomum Silky Dogwood assorted butterflies
Cornus drummondii Roughleaf Dogwood assorted butterflies
Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood assorted butterflies
Cornus racemosa Gray Dogwood assorted butterflies
Cornus rugosa Roundleaf Dogwood assorted butterflies
Cornus sericea Red-osier Dogwood assorted butterflies
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower assorted butterflies
Eryngium yuccifolium Rattlesnake-Master assorted butterflies
Eupatorium perfoliatum Boneset Silver-bordered Fritillary, Milbert's Tortoiseshell
Eupatorium spp. Joe Pye Weed Giant Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Orange Sulphur, Variegated Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Viceroy, Eyed Brown,
Fragaria spp. Strawberry Coral Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Silvery Blue
Helianthus occidentalis Western Sunflower assorted butterflies
Hypericum spp. St. Johns Wort Karner Blue
Iris versicolor Iris Silver-bordered Fritillary
Liatris spp. Blazing Star Tiger Swallowtail, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Gray Hairstreak, Aphrodite Fritillary, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Common Wood Nymph
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower assorted butterflies
Lupinus perennis Lupine Spicebush Swallowtail, Painted Lady
Malus coronaria Crabapple Spicebush Swallowtail
Mentha spp. Mints Gray Hairstreak
Monarda fistulosa Bee Balm Tiger Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Common Wood Nymph, Monarch
Monarda punctata Horsemint Karner Blue
Phlox pilosa Phlox Karner Blue
Physocarpus opulifolius Common Ninebark assorted butterflies
Potentilla friuticosa Shrubby Cinquefoil Dorcas Copper, Swamp Metalmark, Baltimore
Prunus serotina Black Cherry assorted butterflies
Prunus virginiana Chokecherry American Lady, Silvery Blue
Ratibida pinnata Yellow Coneflower assorted butterflies
Rhus typhina Staghorn Sumac Banded Hairstreak, Summer Azure, American Snout, Silvery Checkerspot, Red Admiral, White Admiral, Little Wood Satyr, Red-spotted Purple
Rubus spp. Blackberry Spicebush Swallowtail, Coral Hairstreak, Karner Blue, Pearl Crescent, Painted Lady, Viceroy
Rudbeckia hirta Black-Eyed Susan Dorcas Copper, Coral Hairstreak, Swamp Metalmark, Great Spangled Fritillary, Meadow Fritillary, Milbert's Tortoiseshell,
Rudbeckia triloba Three-Lobed Coneflower assorted butterflies
Silphium perfoliatum Cup Plant assorted butterflies
Silphium terebinthinaceum Prairie-Dock assorted butterflies
Solidago spp. Goldenrod Clouded Sulphur, Purplish Copper, Gray Hairstreak, American Snout, Silver-bordered Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, Viceroy, Common Wood-Nymph, Monarch, Eastern Tailed Blue
Sorgastum nutans Indian Grass Pepperand Salt Skipper
Spiraea spp. Spiraea sp. Coral Hairstreak, Summer Azure
Vaccinium spp. Blueberry Spicebush Swallowtail, Silvery Blue
Verbena hastata Blue Vervain Orange Sulphur, Common Wood-Nymph
Veronia missurica Ironweed Tiger Swallowtail, Painted Lady, Monarch
Veronicastrum virginicum Culver's-Root assorted butterflies
Viburnum acerifolium Maple Leaf Viburnum Henry's Elfin
Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood Viburnum assorted butterflies
Viburnum lentago Nannyberry assorted butterflies
Viburnum prunifolium Black Haw assorted butterflies
Viburnum rafinesquianum Downy Arrow-wood Viburnum assorted butterflies
Viburnum trilobum Highbush Cranberry assorted butterflies


Butterflies of Michigan, by Jaret C. Daniels

Michigan Butterflies & Skippers: A Field Guide and Reference, by Mogens C. Nielsen MSU Extention