Monarch catapillar eating a leaf

Without caterpillars, there wouldn't be any butterflies. Here is a list of some Wisconsin butterflies and the host plants where the caterpillars (larvae) munch the leaves for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can plant these flowers, trees, and shrubs to help the caterpillars become butterflies. Each caterpillar's favorite food is listed to the right of their name:


  • American ladies
  • Brown elfins
  • Fritillaries
  • Gorgone checkerspots
  • Henry's elfins
  • Hoary elfins
  • Karner blue
  • Monarch
  • Pearl crescents
  • Wind indigo duskywings

Host Flowers

  • Everlasting & pussy toes
  • Leather leaf & Labrador tea
  • Violets
  • Sunflowers & asters
  • Blueberry
  • Barberry
  • Lupine
  • Milkweed
  • Asters
  • Wild Indigo

Some butterflies like trees for a host plant.

Here is a list of butterflies and their favorite host trees.

  • Acadian Hairstreak like American Elm trees, Paper Birch, Aspen, and Hackberry.
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtails like Poplar and Aspen trees
  • Eastern Pine Elfin like Jack, Red, White Pine
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail likes Black and Pin cherry tree leaves
  • Hackberry Emperors like Hackberry of course!
  • Mourning Cloak like American Elm, Paper Birch, Aspen, Hackberry
  • Sliver-spotted skipper like Black Locust


Some butterfly larvae like plants that we use for food.

  • Black Swallowtail likes Dill, Parsley, Carrot
  • Silvery Blue likes the Wild Pea