Thursday, September 29, 2011

Petunias in the Butterfly Garden

The lowly petunia is not only easy to grow, 

it is also a draw for many butterflies, such as this orange sulphur, also often called an alfafa sulphur.

Not every butterfly can reach the nectar that is deep inside the petunia.

According to Kris Wetherbee's article 'Gardening for Butterflies' for Audubon Magazine, skippers, monarchs and painted ladies have long tongues, swallowtails and most whites and sulphurs have medium-length tongues, and many brushfoot butterflies have very short tongues.  Though in general, butterflies have nothing on many moths - the proboscis of some sphinx or hawk moths can measure up to 14 inches!

For this small petunia, the orange sulphur has no problem reaching the nectar.  However the deeper petunia blossoms apparently require some 
s t r e t c h i n g ...

to get one's fill of sweet petunia nectar.


  1. What great captures! I love the last one where the butterfly is falling into the bloom!

  2. Slurp, slurp, slurp. I can just imagine it's joy finally getting down to the good stuff! Great pics!

  3. Blimey 14 inches...I'm gonna have nightmares about that now!! xx

  4. Nice photos. My petunia never seems to attract the critters, mostly because I have other plants they prefer. But occasionally a bee will pop in.

  5. Had to laugh at the photo of the butterfly stretching! Like Winnie-the-Pooh and the honey pot!

  6. That's a good analogy, Lyn! This butterfly loved the petunias, and I just had to laugh at how much he had to stretch to get into them. Thankfully he never got stuck!

    The petunias also attract a lot of skippers. I've never seen any of the bigger butterflies there - the big butterfly bush in the middle of the yard attracts all of them.

  7. That is one determined little butterfly! Love this post.


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