Enhancing Habitat for Butterflies

Creating a Native Butterfly Garden

Butterflies live all over the world. Among the thousands of species, many are endangered. Turn your garden into a butterfly habitat and you will be rewarded with their lovely surprise visits. When butterflies visit your garden they fly like tiny stringless kites, and they dance for free. They have beautiful names, such as Fiery Jewel, Lacewing, Glasswing and Big Greasy!!


The ideal place for your butterfly attracting garden will be in a sunny wind protected spot. You need to provide several things for butterflies to begin to regularly visit your garden. The adults need food, such as nectar from flowers, and the females need to lay their eggs on a plant that will provide food to the caterpillars as they hatch. Many butterflies lay their eggs on trees where ants live, and the caterpillars will not survive unless the ants are present to babysit them. Green Ants are good babysitters. Male butterflies also like to puddle about in mud where they can suck up the mud and then spit it out! Scientists think they need the minerals from the soil, so if you can provide a sunny puddly spot in your garden they will love it.

(Photo above by Emma Lupin)

Butterfly attracting plants that grow in the Top End include:

  • Micromelum minutum
  • Breynia cernua
  • Terminalia species
  • Carallia brachiata
  • Melicope elleryana
  • Celtis species
  • Pongamia pinnata

Top End Butterfly attracting plants (larvae and nectar)

Acacia hemignosta          attracts
Small Purple Line-blue (Prosotas dubiosa subsp. dubiosa)

Alphitonia excelsa     attracts   
Fiery Jewel (Hypochrysops ignita)

Breynia cernua                    attracts
Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe)

Buchanania arborescens    attracts
Purple Oak-blue/Dull Oak-blue (Arhopala eupolis)

Calophyllum inophyllum     attracts
Shining Oak-blue/Common Oak-blue (Arhopala micale)

Clerodendrum floribundum    attracts
Blackspotted Flash (Hypolycaena phorbas),                                               Fiery Jewel (Hypochrysops ignita)

Corymbia ptychocarpa   attracts
Purple Oak-blue/Dull Oak-blue (Arhopala eupolis)
Cupaniopsis anacardioides
Blackspotted Flash (Hypolycaena phorbas),                                                Shining Oak-blue/Common Oak-blue (Arhopala micale)
Dark Cerulean (Jamides phaseli),
Dark Ciliate-blue (Anthene seltuttus),
Fiery Jewel (Hypochrysops ignita),
Pale Ciliate-blue (Anthene lycaenoides godeffroyi),
Shining Oak-blue/Common Oak-blue (Arhopala micale)
White-banded Line-blue (Nacaduba kurava)

Livistona benthamii         attracts
Yellow Palm Dart (Cephrenes trichopepla)

Maranthes corymbosa           attracts
Purple Oak-blue/Dull Oak-blue (Arhopala eupolis)

Micromelum minutum         attracts
Canopus Butterfly/Fuscous Swallowtail (Papilio fuscus canopus),
Large Citrus Butterfly (Papilio aegeus),

Millettia pinnata               attracts
Common Banded Awl (Hasora chromus chromus),
Dark Ciliate-blue (Anthene seltuttus),
Dark Cerulean (Jamides phaseli),
Pale Ciliate-blue (Anthene lycaenoides godeffroyi),

Terminalia microcarpa              attracts  
Brown Awl/Narrow-winged Awl (Badamia exclamationis),

Themeda triandra                 attracts
Cedar Bush Brown (Mycalesis sirius),
Darwin Ringlet (Hypocysta adiante),
Dingy Bush-brown (Mycalesis perseus),
Senta Skipper/Spotted Grass-skipper (Neohesperilla senta),
White-margined Grass-dart (Ocybadistes hypomeloma)

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Voluntary Conservation for Top End Native landscapes

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