- Author: Paula Pashby
I love seeing butterflies. I always feel like it is a sign that our ecosystem is still thriving amidst all of the turmoil in the year 2020. Today we are recovering from the smoke and ash from a very large wildfire that was close to home, and I saw a butterfly cutting an arc through our garden just a moment ago and made me smile.
I often wonder what type of butterfly is visiting my garden. Many times, I think I spot the mighty Monarch, only to be told that there are many lookalikes out there. So, I decided to embark on a research adventure to learn about the most common butterflies we may attract and encounter in our gardens throughout Solano and the surrounding counties.
I was a little overwhelmed to discover that there is a lot of literature on Northern California butterflies, so I narrowed my focus to identify the likelihood of the types of butterflies visiting my garden. Some great resources that helped in my research are the Native Plant Finder (NWF.org) and the California Native Plant Society (Calscape.org). With both of these sites, you can just input your location or zip code and their database provides a list of butterflies or plants you can expect to do well in your area.
Some butterflies visit our local trees, such as willow, oak, pine, alder, cherry and elm. They come to these trees to feed off the available organic material, but most adult butterflies visit flowers to drink the nectar. The butterflies are also in search for the ideal plants that their caterpillar offspring can feed and prosper as they transform into adult beauty.
In case you are inspired to begin your own search through the tidal wave of information on butterflies in your area, here is a list of a few host plants for butterflies that you can find in Solano County, confirmed by the California Native Plant Society (Calscape.org). If you visit the Calscape website, you will find a wide variety of other plants to consider for attracting butterflies to your garden, including:
- California Poppy (Eschschlozia californica)
- Aster (Asteracea)
- Butterfly Bush (Buddleja)
- Milkweed (Asclepias)
- Lantana (camara)
- Salvia (most types)
- Pincusion (Scabiosa atropurpurea)
- Coreopsis (lanceolata)
- Beware…there are many more!
Next, is a list of common butterflies we might see in Solano County and gardens in our surrounding area. Please have fun finding out how to attract these wonderful creatures. I want to thank Kathy Keatley Garvey for the photos below.