Get Green with Style Blog

Interview with Sue Fox McGovern – Part 2

Sue Fox McGovern interviewed by Hilary Sopata

In this post, we’re continuing the interview with Sue Fox McGovern, writer and butterfly gardener.  So far, we’ve discussed the needs of the Monarch caterpillar, but what are some other plants necessary for butterflies? 

“Dill is one of the host plants for Black Swallowtails,” Sue says, “and the female searches for that plant to lay her eggs. I was at the farmers’ market last month and watched a Black Swallowtail lay eggs on the dill plants that they were selling. I grow dill in my yard not for my consumption but for the Black Swallowtail caterpillars.”

Sue says she learns a lot simply by observing various butterflies that fly into her yard. “Three years ago I watched the Red Admiral land on a plant near my fence, and when I checked the plant’s leaves I found an egg there. Later I identified that plant as Pennsylvania pellitory, which I used to pull as a weed. Now I leave it there for the Red Admiral. And I’m careful about pulling up stray elm saplings because I’ve seen the Question Mark butterfly use that plant as her host plant.” In addition, Sue states that years ago her son noticed a Painted Lady land on a thistle growing near their swing set and when they checked the plant, they found an egg there. “I’m careful when I pull weeds because I know how important so many of them are to the insects in my area.”

 The benefit of planting a lot of native plants, according to Sue, is that they do not require a lot of water. Sue also maintains the growth of her garden through natural spreading of natives. “I bought one coneflower plant about six years ago, and it has spread all over. Coneflowers provide a mass of color and attract lots of butterflies as well as beautiful goldfinches.”

By growing native plants, you can save water, fertilizer, carbon emissions from transporting new plants, packaging for new plants, time and energy by fostering their growth. Common Milkweed is actually a very beautiful plant as are many of the other host plants for butterflies.  Growing a native garden for butterflies is a great way to go green in your garden!

For more information about butterfly gardening, you can contact Sue directly.
Sue Fox McGovern


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