Supporting native insects is easy

Vanessa virginiensis on Antennaria dioica
Vanessa virginiana (American painted lady) on Antennaria dioica (pussytoes)

Yesterday I planted two drought-tolerant native Ontario wildflowers in my front garden: Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) and Antennaria dioica (pussytoes). I wanted to support native insects in my backyard habitat. Globally insects are declining, with native pollinators particularly under threat.

This afternoon the pussytoes was visited by a Vanessa virginiana (American painted lady), presumably laying eggs. Antennaria and Anaphalis (everlastings) are the preferred host plants for this butterfly’s larvae. I have not seen either wildflower anywhere around my neighbourhood or the adjoining urban park.

And I’ve never seen this butterfly in my garden before. Where did she come from? How, how, how did she find this innocuous new little pincushion of leaves? With her pinhead sized brain she knows more about some natural mystery than I can understand.

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