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Step 1: Host Plants
We set out to create a garden as a habitat perfect for butterflies to thrive! We wanted to keep Florida butterflies in existence and create a beautiful outdoor space. First step was to plant the host plants- we planted passion vine, passiflora, dutchman's pipe vnie, coontie, birthwort, and milkweed. Each of these plants has a unique relationship as a host plant for a different species of caterpillar & butterfly. In the seedling stage, we have dill & fennel, as well as candlebush, two more host plants for other caterpillars.
Step 2: Nature Did It's Work - Caterpillars!
We started seeing butterfly eggs and soon after, caterpillars on our host plants! A butterfly will only lay it's eggs on it's host plant, the caterpillar will only live on, and eat, one certain host plant for it's species of butterfly. Atala caterpillar on the Coontie. Polydamas swallowtail on the dutchman's pipe vine & birthwort, zebra longwing on the passiflora, gult fritilary on the passion vine, monarch on the milkweed, barred sulpher will eat the candlebush, and giant swallowtail will eat the dill and fennel.
Step 3: Cocoons!
After about 2 weeks, we started seeing cocoons. The pupa stage of the caterpillar also lasts about 2 weeks. in this stage usually the caterpillar will crawl off his host plant and the fun part is finding all the cocoons all over the garden!
Step 4: Butterflies!
Results! The butterflies emerge from their cocoons and after a few hours fly away! Success! And the cycle starts all over again.
Step 5: Nectar Flowers
Last and certainly not least, we planted nectar plants for the butterflies. These are simply a variety of nectar flowering plants which the butterflies can feed off of. Some are lantana, tropical sage, milkweed, bleeding heart vine, mexican flame vine, passion vine, blue porterweed, and others. These feed and attract the butterflies while they are looking for their host plant.
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