plant food
hercules moth

Plant Food

Food plants for Australian butterflies and caterpillars

The best way to attract butterflies to your garden is to plant the plants that the caterpillar stage of the butterflies in your area eat. Caterpillars are very specific about what they will and won’t eat, so female butterflies are equipped with an extremely good sense of smell in order that they can lay their eggs on the correct plant(s). It stands to reason then that having these plants in your garden will attract female butterflies from all around your area – some can even smell their host plant from several kilometres away!

You will also attract male butterflies into your garden by planting a butterfly host plant garden – after all the boys are always on the lookout for the girls.

There are a couple of things to remember when planting out and caring for your butterfly friendly plants.  Don’t have then in a prime spot in your garden – remember the whole idea is that the leaves will be eaten by caterpillars! Secondly – don’t spray them with insecticides. Be careful with the amount of fertiliser you apply. Even that can affect a caterpillar’s sensitive constitution.

Not all the butterflies and moths listed below will fly in your area – a huge percentage of Australia’s butterflies and moths are found in the tropical rainforests in north Queensland (which is why we are here!). Best to check with your local nursery as to whether or not the plants are available/will grow in your area. Chances are that if conditions are conducive and the plants occur throughout your region, the butterflies and moths will also be there to take advantage of the food.

And while you’re at it – don’t forget butterflies need to eat to, so don’t forget to plant some flowers for nectar. Pentas or Ixora are good as they are multi-headed and have lots of nectar. Have fun!          

Plant food

Host Plant(s)

Butterflies or Moths that feed on these Host plants

Acaias (wattles) A.flavescens, A.holoserica & A.melanoxylum

Some Jewel Butterflies; Tailed Emperor; Damels Blue; Ghost Moths, Eye Spot Moths; Large Leaf Moths as well as others

Lacewing Vine, Adenia heterophylla

Orange Cruiser; Red Lacewing; Glasswing; Orange Lacewing

Red Ash, Alphitonia excelsa

Fiery Jewel; Copper Jewel; Large Greenbanded Blue; Small Greenbanded Blue; Indigo Flash; Diggles Blue; Ghost Moths; Yellow Emperor Moth

Native Blue Fruited Ginger Alpinia caerulea

Banded Demon

Soursop/Sweetsop annona muricata

Pale Green Triangle; Green Spotted Triangle; Green Triangle

Sugar Apple/Custard Apple Annona reticulata, A.squamosa

Green Spotted Triangle; Pale Green Triangle; Green Triangle; Blue Triangle; Common Red-eye

Native Dutchman’s Pipe Aristolochia tagala

Cairns Birdwing; Red-Bodied Swallowtail; Big Greasy

Native Dutchman’s Pipe Aristolochia thozetti

Big Greasy; Red-Bodied Swallowtail

Asystasia gangetica

Leafwing; Danaid Eggfly; Blue Banded Eggfly; Blue Argus

Flame Tree  Brachychiton acerifolius

Common Aeroplane; Tailed Emperor; Helenita Blue

Coffee Bush  Breynia oblongifolia

Australian Rustic; Grass Yellow

Bottlebrushes  Callistemon spp.

Nectar for butterflies; Ghost Emperor Moth; Emperor Gum Moth

Scented Myrtle  Canthium coprosmoides

Hummingbird Hawk Moths

Sweet Scented Canthium  Canthium odoratum

Hummingbird and Bumblebee Hawk Moths

Corky Bark  Carallia biachiata

Four O’Clock Moth (day flying moth and beautifully coloured)

Slender Grape  Cayratia clematidea

Harlequin Moth

Silky Celtis Tree  Celtis paniculata

Australian Beak; Tailed Emperor

Common Celtis  Celtis philippensis

Tailed Emperor; Macleays Swallowtail; Blue Triangle; Purple Brown-eye; Common Red-eye

Oliver’s Laurel  Cinnamomum oliveri

Blue Triangle

Citrus – esp grapefruit, lemon & lime trees

Orchard Butterfly; Dingy Swallowtail; Chequered Swallowtail; Ambrax; Hummingbird Moth; Emperor Moth

Brown Kurrajong  Commersonia bartramia

Peacock Jewel

Northern Laurel  Cryptocarya hyposyodia

Macleays Swallowtail; Blue Triangle; Common Oakblue

Darlingia darlingiana

Good source of nectar for most butterflies and moths

Climbing Derris  Derris spp. esp. D. trifoliata

Orange Aeroplane; Broad-Banded Awl

Hard Quandong  Elaeocarpus obovaus

Fiery Jewel

Toywood Tree

Zodiac Moth,  White Striped moth

Cherry Ballart Exocarpos cupressiformis, Native Cherry Exocarpos latifolius

Fiery Jewel; Crow butterflies;  Foam Moths; Large Leaf Moth

October Glory Vine Faradaya splendida

Common Oakblue; Common Tit; Tailed Emperor; Pale Ciliate Blue; Eone Blue

Figs Ficus spp esp. F. racemosa; F.macrophylla

Crow butterflies; Common Moonbeam; Foam Moths

Buttonwood/Cheese Tree  Glochidion spp. esp. G. ferdinandi, G. phillipicum

Common Oakblue; Hercules Moth; Ghost Moths

Ischnostemma carnosum (syn. Cynanchum carnosum)

Black & White Tiger; Lesser Wanderer; Blue Tiger; Common Crow

Brush Box Lophostemon conferta

Common Red-eye; Rare Red-eye; Regent Skipper; Fiery Jewel

Melaleuca spp. esp M.quinquinerva Mviridiflora, M.leucadendron & M.dealbata

Dull Oakblue; Common Oakblue; Ghost Moths: Flowers attract a range of butterflies

Melicope/Euodia spp. esp M.elleryana; E.bonwickii

Ulysses butterfly; Ghost Moths; Emperor Moths

Mistletoes esp. Ameyma spp. Dedrophthoe spp.

Northern Jezabel; Union Jack; Common Jezabel; Nysa Jezabel; Genoveva Azure; Purple Azure; Olane Azure; Dodds Azure; Cooktown Azure; Silky Azure; Amaryllis Azure; Narcissus Jewel; Diggles Blue; various Oakblues; Mistletoe Emperor Moths

Burny Bean  Mucuna gigantea

Green Awl; Tailed Green Banded Blue

Ant Plant Myrmecodia beccarii

Apollo Jewel; Sphinx Hawk Moth

Booly Gum/White Bollywood Neolitsea dealbata

Blue Triangle; Purple Brown-eye

Bleeding Heart Omalanthus novoguineensis

Hercule Moth

Day Moth Vine Omphalea queenslandiae

Zodia Moth

White Mulberry Pipturus argenteus

White Nymph

Cocy Apple Planchonia careya

Copper Jewel; Emperor Moth

Basswood Polyscias ssp

Hercules Moth

Pastel Flower Pseuderanthemum variabile

Blue Banded Eggfly; Common Eggfly; Daniad Eggfly; Leafwing; Blue Argus

Zig Zag Vine Rauwenhoffia leichardtii (syn. Melodorum leichardtii)

Four Bar Swordtail; Pale Green Triangle; Green Spotted Triangle

Brazil Red Bell Plant xRuellia tuberosa

Australian Lurcher

Gunstock Wood/Flintwood Scolopia braunii

Australian Rustic; Zebra Moth

Corky Milk Vine Secamone elliptica

Blue Tiger; Crow butterfly

Small Tetra Beech Tetrasynandra longipes

Regent Skipper

Damson/Almond Terminalia esp T.muelleri

Common Oakblue; Narcissus Jewel; Copper Jewel; Emperor Moth

Timonius timon

Hercules Moth; Emperor Moth

Wilkiea huegeliana & W.macrophylla

Regent Skipper

Yellowood Zanthoxylum brachyacanthum

Orchard Butterfly; Ambrax; Capaneus


Australian Butterfly Sanctuary - ABN: 63 257 712 278 - PO Box 345
Kuranda QLD 4881 Australia
Ph: (07) 4093 7575 - Fax: (07) 4093 8923 - Email: ulysses@australianbutterflies.com

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