What is a HOST PLANT?

Red Admiral butterfly on Pearly Everlasting

When butterflies and moths lay eggs, they have specific nutritional requirements and the adults will only lay eggs on plants that meet those needs. This is why these plants are called HOST PLANTS since they act as hosts to the growing caterpillars which will eventually pupate to become beautiful adults. To support the life cycle of endangered or threatened insects, we can include these plants in our landscapes.

Many people are aware that Monarch butterflies require milkweed as a host plant for their caterpillars to grow to maturity and can easily identify the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) plant that is often seen in fields or on roadsides. Did you know there are several types of milkweed that grow in Ontario Both Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) & Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) are attractive plants for the home garden. Once your clump gets established to a good size, you may be lucky enough to see some young caterpillars emerge from their eggs.

Butterfly Milkweed & Swamp Milkweed – host plants for Monarch butterflies

Here’s a list of some of common Host Plants in our region.


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