The following lists provide detail on caterpillar food plants for butterflies that are commonly found in the following areas:

Caterpillars and their food plants

When it comes time for butterflies to lay their eggs, it is all about location, location, location. Even though the butterflies will be long gone when their eggs hatch, the location of the eggs is essential. The eggs must be on or near a food plant, also called a host plant, that will be eaten by the small, emerging caterpillars.

Food plants for Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillar are violets.


Food plants for Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar are pipevines (Aristolochia)


The relationship between caterpillars and their food sources has developed over thousands of years. Not only have caterpillars evolved to require specific plants as food, they require large portions as well. Over the caterpillar's life, it will increase in weight many thousands times.
The first food caterpillars eat upon hatching are their egg cases. After that, they start eating their food plant in order to bulk up as fast as they can.

Food plants for Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars include black cherry (Prunus serotina), tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana).

Some food plants for the Red-spotted Purple caterpillar are black cherry , willows, serviceberry (Amelanchier), and deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum).

One of the main food plants for the Tawny Emperor caterpillar is American hackberry (Celtis occidentalis).

To make your butterfly garden a success, include native caterpillar food plants. Once you have selected a food plant for your garden, be sure to plant a few. You will have more success in attracting egg laying butterflies if there is a group of plants rather than just one. And remember, not only will you attract egg laying butterflies, you will be providing for the next generation of butterflies.