The butterfly proboscis or tongue used to drink nectar
Flowers, flowers and more flowers! Garden flowers, herb flowers, vegetable flowers, orchard flowers, pasture flowers, weed flowers and native trees, shrubs and creepers' flowers.
Flowers that show off their nectar source and don’t shut it away like snapdragons do. Flowers that have markings to show where their nectar is.
Many different coloured flowers - some butterflies are said to be attracted to certain colours but we have not studied this.
The smallest butterflies feed on tiny flowers like Alyssum and the local natives Geranium homeanum and Scaly Buttons Leptorhyncos squamatus whereas larger, sturdier flowers or clumps of flowers like Abelia and Buddleia attract the larger butterflies.
Nectar is drunk by butterflies through a proboscis that they keep tightly coiled when not feeding. Larger butterflies with longer proboscis can reach into tubular flowers like Salvias.
This daisy provides a platform for a Spotted Sedge Skipper
Common Grass Blue feeding on a native daisy Scaly Buttons
Maybe you find the perfume of Buddleias too sweet but butterflies love it. It is their most frequently visited flower in our garden. We have several colours – mauve, purple and yellow. Some people have concerns about Buddleia being weedy. This is not our experience here on the Dorrigo Plateau having grown them for over 10 years now. However do take care with cuttings which can develop roots if piled on the ground in a damp location. Prune Buddleia hard in winter to keep the shrub compact.
Some other flowers butterflies love to visit here are blue Scabious, whitish Abelia, red & pink Pentas, mauve and yellow Wallflowers and white and pink Clover. Native plants we see them feeding on are red and cream Bottlebrush, white Teatree, heavily scented cream Pittosporum, cream Pandorea (Wonga Vine) and cream Parsonsia. But nearly every flower will be used at some time, some are just not as popular as others.
Lemon Migrant - the purple Buddleia is a favourite of most butterflies
Buddleias keep butterflies awhile probing the many little florets - here a Yellow Albatross enjoys a meal
A Macleay's Swallowtail enjoying a drink from Primulas in winter
There are still a few butterflies flying during winter on the Plateau (see the end of this page for our winter sightings) - mainly Australian Admirals, Common Jezebels and Macleay's Swallowtails so let some forget-me-nots and primulas go to seed and spread around your garden to flower when nectar is scarce.
Pineapple sage also flowers in winter and there will always be a clover flower or two.
When the Spanish bluebells are out they too will be visited.
A split in the Pineapple Sage flower allows a Long-tailed Pea Blue to reach nectar
A Common Jezebel's long proboscis can reach into the flowers of an Abelia shrub
Rosemary flowers in spring attracted this Big Greasy Swallowtail to pause a moment in our garden
Chequered Swallowtail, wings fluttering, feeding on Pentas
This Everlasting Daisy grows naturally on the Plateau and is enjoyed by an Australian Admiral
A grass-dart is drinking from the pasture plant Birdsfoot Trefoil
Ladies' Tresses Orchids, Spiranthes sinensis flower late summer in our paddocks and are visited by Silver Xenicas
Native Scaly Buttons, Leptorhynchos squamatus, attract many small butterflies like this Barred Skipper
A Spotted Brown on native Silk Pod Vine, Parsonsia straminea - which grows in our rainforest
Long-tailed Pea Blue feeding on native Hardenbergia comptoniana
One of dozens of Common Jezebels that came to feed on Pittosporum undulatum.
Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) occur naturally on the Dorrigo Plateau. These are in the Warrumbungles, NSW
Australian Admirals and Painted Lady Butterflies were attracted to the flower spikes in large numbers
The Grass Tree in our garden is yet to send up a flower spike. When it does we look forward to seeing what butterflies come to feed on it.
A Macleay's Swallowtail feeding on Brassica flowers and helping with pollination
Macleay's Swallowtail on Forget-me-nots in spring
Macleay's Swallowtail on Eriostemon australasius
Open-faced Dahlias have proved an attraction for Painted Ladies
Note the proboscis of this Common Grass Dart feeding on a Parsonsia flower bud
A Long-Tailed Pea Blue has fed on a buttercup
Compared with other times of the year our garden is nectar poor during winter, particularly in our coldest month, July. Butterflies that we have seen at Claire Cottage during winter are listed below. Winter temperatures here generally range between the extremes of night time minimums of -3C to day time maximums of 20C.
JUNE sightings; SKIPPERS: Grass Dart (12/06) SWALLOWTAILS: Macleay's Swallowtail, WHITES & YELLOWS: Cabbage White, Common Jezebel, Large Grass-yellow, Small Grass-yellow NYMPHS: Wanderer, Meadow Argus, Painted Lady, Australian Admiral, BLUES: Common Grass Blue
JULY sightings; SKIPPERS: SWALLOWTAILS: Macleay's Swallowtail, WHITES & YELLOWS: Cabbage White, Common Jezebel, NYMPHS: Wanderer, Meadow Argus, Painted Lady, Australian Admiral, BLUES:
AUGUST sightings; SKIPPERS: Grass Dart (28/08) SWALLOWTAILS: Macleay's Swallowtail, Big Greasy Swallowtail, WHITES & YELLOWS: Cabbage White, Common Jezebel, Lemon Migrant, Spotted Jezebel, Small Grass-yellow NYMPHS: Wanderer, Brown Ringlet, Glasswing, Meadow Argus, Painted Lady, Australian Admiral, BLUES: Common Grass Blue