The Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden showcases plants that attract and sustain butterflies throughout their lifecycle.
Butterflies and plants have a symbiotic relationship, meaning they depend on each other for survival. Plants provide caterpillars and butterflies food and shelter, while butterflies pollinate flowering plants, facilitating their reproduction. This interdependence highlights the importance of the conservation of biodiversity; the loss of an individual species can have devastating impacts on an entire ecosystem.
Butterflies lay their eggs on “host plants,” which provide food for caterpillars after they hatch. In some cases, butterflies are very particular about the plants on which they lay their eggs and will only lay them on a certain species or a group of closely related species. In our garden we have provided host plants for a variety of butterfly species. Many adult butterflies drink nectar from the flowers of “nectar plants.” These are usually more general, although some butterflies do have preferences. A variety of nectar plants is also important to attracting and keeping butterflies.
Many of the plants found in this butterfly garden are native to South Florida. Some plants that are commonly considered weeds are essential to butterflies’ survival. Common examples include Bidens alba, Spanish needle, a popular nectar source, Phyla nodiflora, frogfruit, a host for the Phaon Crescent and White Peacock butterflies that also provides nectar to many species.
Also, Asclepias curassavica, scarlet milkweed, is the host for Monarch, Queen, and Soldier larvae, the flowers also provide nectar for a variety of butterflies.
Throughout the year, a variety of butterflies can be seen in the Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden. May through October are the months of most abundance here and throughout the rest of South Florida. Butterflies are always present, but may not be in their most conspicuous phase. During cold, dry or other unfavorable conditions, butterflies either migrate or go through diapause, a period when development is suspended. Depending on the species, diapause can take place during different stages of the butterfly lifecycle.
Many butterflies are imperiled by the effects of over collection, pesticides such as mosquito spray and habitat loss. Do your part to ensure the conservation of these creatures:
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is partnering with the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association to manage our entire collection as a butterfly reserve. Butterfly attracting plants are concentrated in the Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden, but are planted throughout the entire garden. We avoid using pesticides throughout Fairchild to ensure that host plants are safe for butterfly larvae to eat.
The Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden was established in memory of Lisa D. Anness, with support from Mr. Larry Rutherford.