Butterflies have very specific plants (host plants) that they will lay their eggs on, and this differs from species to species. The caterpillars that hatch from these eggs can either feed almost exclusively on one species or they will feed off of a number of host plant species across a few genera and families.
There are some plant species that will support more than one caterpillar (butterfly) species. Below is a list of what indigenous butterfly host plant to plant for which butterfly you would like to attract to your garden. The butterflies included in this list are those that occur in Gauteng. Many of these plants are available at Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery. For more information and garden design ideas read our blog on creating a butterfly balcony garden or speak to our knowledgeable staff at the nursery.
As butterflies lay eggs that hatch into hungry caterpillars, planting host plants to feed butterfly babies does mean that these plants will, at certain times of the year, have holes in their leaves, and sometimes their flowers too. Mostly you will not even notice where the caterpillars have been eating but they do denude some plants such as the Kiggelaria africana (Wild Peach) which gets devoured by the Garden Acraea butterfly. Don’t worry about this as the plants are evolved to cope with it. The caterpillar droppings fertilise the tree which bursts into leaf again in a matter of days. If you want butterflies in your garden do not get out the pesticides to spray as you will be killing your butterflies.
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