Bermuda has a variety of butterflies native to our island; here’s how you can attract them at all stages of their life cycle to your garden!
1. Bermuda Buckeye – Plantain
With their delicate wings that seem like wings of art, there is no doubt that butterflies are some of the most beautiful insects. However, many of them prefer to feed on weeds! The Bermuda Buckeye caterpillar eats plantain exclusively.
You likely already have this plant in your garden, as it is highly adaptable to a variety of areas. If you have kids, you have probably been hit by a plantain projectile; the stems of the flowering part of the plant can be looped around the brown heads to fire like a slingshot!
2. Monarch – Milkweed
The most famous of butterflies, the impressive monarch is found in many regions of the world due to its migration habits. The bright black, yellow and white caterpillars feed on milkweed leaves until plump and large enough to form a chrysalis.
Milkweed can be bought at any garden store, and you can even snag caterpillars from other milkweed plants to bring to your garden. Don’t bring too many though – the caterpillars have just two weeks to double dozens of times in size. A single milkweed plant for a collection of caterpillars is likely not enough, and you will soon be eaten out of house and home!
4. Red Admiral – Nettles
The Red Admiral is a rarely seen Bermuda migrant. The handsome butterfly has dark velvety wings with orange stripes and brilliant under-wing colouration. Another weed-loving caterpillar, the red admiral feeds on plants in the nettle family.
All caterpillars can produce silk, and older red admiral caterpillars make a nest in nettles by tying leaves together with silk. Though nettles can be frustrating to have in the garden, if you already have a patch that you’re unable to remove it’s worth having a look for the small, black, spiky caterpillars sheltering in the leaves.
5. Gulf Fritillary – Passionflower
This bright orange butterfly is a resident to Bermuda. The caterpillars of the gentle gulf fritillary look like they’re going through a goth phase with their bright orange body and black spines covering it.
Passionflower is a beautiful vine perfect for covering pergolas and other tall surfaces. Caterpillars eat great amounts of the 5-pronged leaves and shelter under the brilliant, large purple flowers. Gulf fritillary caterpillars are sustained by one of the most beautiful plants of any Bermudian butterfly.
6. Clouded Sulfphur – Golden Shower
This large yellow butterfly is the only Bermuda butterfly that feasts on a tree rather than a vine or weed. The caterpillars build tents from silk in the host plant where they hide during the day from heat and predators, and are thus rarely seen.
Golden shower is not native, but can be bought from many garden centers and provides a shady tree overflowing with festoons of bright yellow flowers. The clouded sulphur is a less common Bermuda butterfly, so you’re sure to attract them in no time when providing their favourite food source.
Other plants that are good for attracting adult butterflies include pigeon berry, Queen Anne’s lace, nasturtium, goldenrod, salvia, lavender, fennel, and alyssum.
For more information on attracting butterflies to your garden, visit Brighton Nurseries.