Plants That Support Butterflies and Moths

Many plants found on the Cumberland Trail support butterflies and moths as does the larger ecosystem in Tennessee.  The table below shows the butterfly species known to frequent this area and the plants that feed the caterpillars and attract the adults.  The table below is based on species spotted during  North American Butterfly Association butterfly counts.


Butterflies (Common Name) Scientific Name Caterpillar Host Plants Adult Food
Admirals Limenitidinae
Astyanax Red-spotted purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax not reported not reported
Red-spotted purple Limenitis arthemis wild cherry, aspen, poplar, cottonwood, oaks, hawthorn, deerberry, birch, willows, basswood, shadbush (Amelanchier) sap, rotting fruit, carrion, dung, small white flowers, aphid honeydew

Limenitis archippus trees in the willow family (willows, poplars, and cottonwoods) aphid honeydew, carrion, dung, decaying fungi, aster, goldenrod, joe-pye weed, thistle
Emperors Apaturinae
Hackberry Emperor Asterocampa celtis hackberries (Celtis) and sugarberry sap, rotting fruit, dung, carrion
Tawny Emperor Asterocampa clyton elm family trees tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, carrion.  Rarely visit flowers
Leafwings Charaxinae
Goatweed Leafwing Anaea andria Goatweed (croton), prairie tea; all spurge family members Sap, rotting fruit, dung, bird droppings
Longwings Heliconiinae
Aphrodite Fritillary Speyeria aphrodite Violet species milkweed, coneflower (pictured), viper’s bugloss, others

Speyeria diana Violets dung, common and swamp milkweeds, ironweed, red clover
Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele various violet species milkweeds, thistles, ironweed, dogbane, mountain laurel, vetch, bergamot, red clover, purple coneflower
Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae passionflower-vine species composites like members of the aster family
Variegated Fritillary Euptoieta claudia passionflower-vine, may apple, violets, purslane, stonecrop, moonseed butterflyweed, common milkweed, swamp milkweed, coreopsis
Milkweed Butterlies Danainae
Monarch Danaus plexippus milkweed family members (swamp, common, showy) all milkweeds, dogbane, lilac, red clover, thistles, goldenrod, liatris, coreopsis
Snouts Libytheinae
American Snout Libythaena carinenta hackberries (Celtis) aster, dogbane, goldenrod, sweet pepperbush
True Brushfoots Nymphalainae
American Lady Vanessa virginiensis Sunflower family, wormwood, ironweed, burdock dogbane, aster, goldenrod, milkweed, vetch
Baltimore Euphydryas phaeton turtlehead, hairy beardtongue, false foxglove milkweed, viburnum, wild rose

Common Buckeye
Junonia coenia snapdragon family, plantain family aster, chickory, coreopsis
Eastern Comma Polygonia comma All elm and nettle families rotting fruit and tree sap
Gorgone Checkerspot Chlosyne gorgone Aster family including sunflower and crosswort prefers yellow flowers
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa willows, American elm, cottonwood, aspen, paper birch, hackberry tree sap, especially oaks, rotted fruit

Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui More than 100 host plants have been noted, including thistles, mallow, and various legumes The Painted Lady prefers nectar from composites 3-6 feet high, especially thistles; also aster, cosmos, blazing star, ironweed, and joe-pye weed. Flowers from other families that are visited include red clover, buttonbush, privet, and milkweeds.
Pearl Crescent Phyciodes tharos Smooth-leaved true asters great variety of flowers including dogbane, milkweed, asters

Question Mark
Polygonia interrogationis American elm, hackberry, nettles rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion; when not available will visit milkweed, aster, sweetpepper bush (Clethra)
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta Nettle family members and possibly hops sap flows on trees, fermenting fruit, bird droppings; visit flowers only when these are not available
Silvery Checkerspot Chlosyne nycteis Many composites including rudbeckia, sunflowers
Gossamer-wing Butterflies (Lycaenidae)
Harvesters Miletinae

Feniseca tarquinius woolly aphids, and sometimes scale insects or treehoppers; only carniverous caterpillar in the North America aphid honeydew
Hairstreaks Theclinae

Great Purple Hairstreak
Atlides halesus mistletoe goldenrod, shepherd’s needle, sweet pepperbush, wild plum
Juniper Hairstreak Callophrys gryneus red cedar dogbane, milwkeed, wild carrot, butterflyweed, sweet white clover

Brown Elfin
Callophrys augustinus Heath family members (huckleberry) blueberry, spicebush, willow, wild plum

Eastern Pine Elfin
Callophrys niphon Various hard pines, white pine blueberry, cinquefoil, chickweed, common milkweed, white sweet clover

Banded Hairstreak
Satyrium calanus Many species of oak, walnut, and hickory dogbane, common milkweed, sumac, white sweet clover, yarrow
Striped Hairstreak
Satyrium liparops Woody trees and shrubs in the rose family (plum, heath), hornbeam, oak, willow common milkweed, dogbane, goldenrod, meadowsweet, white sweet clover, viburnum
Red-banded Hairstreak Calycopis cecrops Max myrtle, sumac, several oaks Wild cherry, coreopsis, sumac, sweet pepperbush, common milkweed, dogbane
Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus Large variety of plants, most often pea and mallow family dogbane, milkweed, mint, winter cress, goldenrod, white sweet clover
White M Hairstreak Parrhasius m-album Oak species viburnum, sumac, sourwood, wild plum, sweet pepperbush, common milkweed, dogwood, goldenrod
Coral Hairstreak Satyrium titus wild cherry, wild plum, chokeberry, rose family butterflyweed, dogbane, sulphur flower
Blues Polyommatinae
Eastern Tailed-Blue Cupido comyntas many plants in the pea family including yellow sweet clover, alfalfa, clover, wild pea, bush clover found on flowers close to the ground like white sweet cover, shepherd’s needle, wild strawberry, cinquefoils, asters
Summer Azure Celastrina neglecta Racemose dogwood, New Jersey Tea, and others flower nectar
Parnassians and Swallowtails Papilionidae
Swallowtails Papilioniae
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes Leaves of parley family (Apiaceae) – carrot, celery, dill, Queen Anne’s Lace red clover, common milkweed, liatris, thistles
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilio glaucus Wild cherry, sweetbay, basswood, tulip tree, birch, ash, cottonwood, mountain ash, willow  wild cherry, lilac
Giant Swallowtail Papilio cresphontes Citrus family, hop tree, common rue azalea, goldenrod, swamp milkweed
Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor pipevines (Aristolochia) thistles, bergamot, azaleas, phlox, and others
Spicebush Swallowtail Papilio troilus Spicebush, sassafras, tulip tree, sweetbay thistles, milkweed, azalea, dogbane, sweet pepperbush

Zebra Swallowtail
Eurytides marcellus Shrubs of genus Asimina (pawpaw), preferably young plants blueberry, blackberry, redbud, viper’s bugloss, dogbane, common milkweed
Skippers Hesperiidae
Giant Skippers Megathyminae
Cofaqui Giant-Skipper Megathymus cofaqui Yucca filamentosas, Y. alofolia Adults do not feed, but males sip moisture from mud
Spread-wing Skippers Pyrginae

Common Sootywing
Pholisora catullus lambsquarters, amaranths, cockscomb many flowers including dogbane, oxalis, white clover, common milkweed, cucumber, and melon

Golden Banded-Skipper
Autochton cellus hog peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata) trailing arbutus, blackberry, abelia, hollyhock
Hayhurst’s Scallopwing Staphylus hayhurstii Goosefoot family (Chenopodiacae), pigweed family (Amaranthaceae) white sweet clover, white clover, cucumber, dogbane
Hoary Edge Achalarus lyciades beggar’s ticks, false indigo, bush clover, all pea family members milkweed, dogbane, buttonbush, New Jersey Tea
Horace’s Duskywing Erynnis horatius Red, white, willow, post, water oaks dogbane, goldenrod, boneset
Juvenal’s Duskywing Erynnis juvenalis Tree and shrub oaks wild plum, blueberry, redbud, lilac
Long-tailed Skipper Urbanus proteus vine legumes including beans, blue peas, wisteria bougainvillea, lantana, shepherd’s needle

Mottled Duskywing
Erynnis martialis Buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae), wild lilacs hoary vervain, and others

Northern Cloudywing
Thorybes pylades Various plants in the pea family including bush clover, clover and others Blue, purple, pink or white flowers (thistles, milkweed, vervain)

Silver-spotted Skipper
Epargyreus clarus Woody legumes including black locust, honey locust, and false indigo red clover, common milkweed, liatris, thistles
Sleepy Duskywing Erynnis brizo Shrubby oaks wild azalea, blueberry, blackberry, dandelion

Southern Cloudywing
Thorybes bathyllus pea family members (bush clover, clover, wild bean) Blue, purple, pink or white flowers (thistles, milkweed, vervain)

Wild Indigo Duskywing
Erynnis baptisiae wild indigo, crown vetch, lupine blackberry, sweet white clover, dogbane, sunflower
Grass Skippers Hesperiinae
Swarthy Skipper  Nastra lherminier little bluestem low-growing flowers like red clover, purple vetch
Clouded Skipper Lerema accius various grasses including wooly beard grass, St. Augustine Various pink, purple, or white flowers including shepherd’s needle, selfheal, vervain, buttonbush, and lantana.
Least Skipper Ancyloxypha numitor Various grasses including marsh millet (Zizaniopsis miliacea), rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), and cultivated rice (Oryza sativa). Flower nectar from low growing plants such as wood sorrel, swamp verbena, pickerelweed, chickory, and white clover.
Fiery Skipper Hylephila phyleus Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), crabgrass (Digitaria), St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and other grasses. sweet pepperbush, swamp milkweed, asters, sneezeweed, knapweed, ironweed, and thistles
Sachem  Atalopedes campestris Grasses including Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), crabgrass (Digitaria), St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and goosegrass (Eleusine). swamp and common milkweeds, buttonbush, dogbane, peppermint, red clover, tickseed sunflower, thistles, New York ironweed, marigold, and asters
Tawny-edged Skipper Polites themistocles Panic grasses (Panicum), slender crabgrass (Digitaria filiformis), and bluegrass (Poa pratensis). alfalfa, red clover, dogbane, shrub houstonia, purple coneflower, thistles, and chicory
Crossline Skipper  Polites originese Purpletop (Tridens flavus), little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), and other grasses White, pink, or purple flowers are preferred including purple vetch, red clover, selfheal, dogbane, shrub houstonia, New Jersey tea, and New York ironweed
Southern Broken-Dash Wallengrenia otho Paspalum and St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum). pickerelweed, selfheal, and sweet pepperbush
Northern Broken-Dash Wallengrenia egeremet Panic grasses including deertongue grass (Panicum clandestinum) and P. dichotomum white, pink, or purple flowers is favored including dogbane, red clover, New Jersey tea, and sweet pepperbush
Little Glassywing Pompeius verna Purpletop (Tridens flavus). white, pink, and purple flowers is preferred, including dogbane, selfheal, peppermint, joe-pye weed, and common and swamp milkweeds. Yellow flowers are visited when others are unavailable
Delaware Skipper Anatrytone logan Various grasses including big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and wooly beard grass (Erianthus divaricatus). pink and white flowers including swamp and common milkweeds, shrub houstonia, mountain mint, marsh fleabane, sweet pepperbush, buttonbush, thistles, and pickerelweed
Hobomok Skipper Poanes hobomok Various grasses including panic grasses (Panicum) and bluegrasses (Poa). common milkweed, henbit, viper’s bugloss, and blackberry
Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon Grasses including lovegrass (Eragrostis), purpletop (Tridens), bluegrass (Poa), wheatgrass (Agropyron), orchardgrass (Dactylis), wildrye (Elymus), and bentgrass (Agrostis). blackberry, purple vetch, common milkweed, buttonbush, joe-pye weed, and thistles
Broad-winged Skipper Poanes viator hairy sedge (Carex lacustris); swamp milkweed, blue vervain
Yehl Skipper Poanes yehl Probably cane (Arundinaria species) sweet pepperbush, chinquapin, pickerelweed, and swamp milkweed
Dion Skipper Euphyes dion Various sedges including woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus), hairy sedge (Carex lacustris pickerelweed, sneezeweed, buttonbush, Alsike clover, and others
Dun Skipper Euphyes vestris Various sedges including chufa flatsedge (Cyperus esculentus) and sun sedge (Carex heliophila). white, pink, or purple flowers including common milkweed, purple vetch, selfheal, peppermint, dogbane, New Jersey tea, and viper’s bugloss
Dusted Skipper  Atrytonopsis hiana Little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius) and big bluestem (A. gerardi). wild strawberry, blackberry, wild hyacinth, phlox, vervain, and red clover

Pepper and Salt Skipper
Amblyscirtes hegon Bluegrass (Poa pratensis), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans and S. secundum), and Indian woodoats grass (Chasmanthium latifolia). viburnum and blackberry

Reversed Roadside-Skipper
Amblyscirtes reversa Switch cane (Arundinaria tecta) flower nectar

Lace-winged Roadside Skipper
Amblyscirtes aesculapius Probably cane (Arundinaria). sweet pepperbush, blackberry, passion flower, white clover, selfheal, and dogbane
Common Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes vialis Various grasses including wild oats (Avena), bent grass (Agrostis), bluegrass (Poa), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), and Indian woodoats grass (Chasmanthium latifolia). low-growing blue flowers including verbena and selfheal
Ocola Skipper


Panoquina ocola Rice (Oryza sativa), sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum), and trompetilla grass (Hymenachne amplexicaulis). lantana, shepherd’s needle, swamp milkweed, buttonbush, and pickerelweed
Whites and Sulphurs Pieridae
Whites Pierinae

Checkered White

Pontia protodice Plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) including cabbage (Brassica oleraceae) hedge mustards, composites, and alfalfa

Cabbage White


Pieris rapae Many plants in the mustard (Brassicaceae) family mustards, dandelion, red clover, asters, and mints

West Virginia White
Pieris virginiensis Toothworts (Dentaria diphylla and D. laciniata) in the mustard (Brassicaceae) family toothworts, spring beauty, violets, and other plants.

Falcate Orangetip


Anthocharis midea Plants of the mustard (Brassicaceae) family including rock cress (Arabis) and winter cress (Barbarea) species flowers of mustards, violets, and others
Sulphurs Coliadinae

Clouded Sulphur
Colias philodice Plants in the pea family (Fabaceae) including alfalfa (Medicago sativa), white clover (Trifolium repens), and pea (Pisum sativum) Nectar of many flowering plants

Orange Sulphur
Colias eurytheme Plants in the pea family (Fabaceae) including alfalfa (Medicago sativa), white clover (Trifolium repens), and white sweet clover (Melilotus alba). dandelion, milkweeds, goldenrods, and asters.

Southern Dogface
Zerene cesonia Small-leaved plants in the pea family (Fabaceae) including alfalfa (Medicago sativa); prairie clovers (Pentalostemon), indigo (Dalea), and clover (Trifolium) species alfalfa, coreopsis, houstonia, and verbena

Cloudless Sulphur
Phoebis sennae Cassia species in the pea family (Fabaceae). flowers with long tubes including cordia, bougainvilla, cardinal flower, hibiscus, lantana, and wild morning glory

Little Yellow
Pyrisitia lisa Partridge pea (Cassia fasciculata) and wild sensitive plant (C. nicitans) in the pea family (Fabaceae). aster family (Asteraceae) including goldenrods and asters
Sleepy Orange Abaeis nicippe Cassia species in the pea family (Fabaceae). many species of flowers
Satyrs and Wood-Nymphs Satyrinae

Southern Pearly Eye
Enodia portlandia Bamboo switch cane (A. tecta). Sap, rotting fruit, carrion, dung
Northern Pearly Eye Enodia anthedon Various grasses including white grass (Leersia virginica), bearded shorthusk (Brachyelytrum erectum), plumegrass (Erianthus), broadleaf uniola (Uniola latifolia), and bottlebrush (Hystrix patula). Dung, fungi, carrion, and sap from willows, poplars, and birch
Appalachian Brown
Satyrodes appalachia Sedge (Carex lacustris) and giant sedge (Rhynchospora inundata) in the sedge family (Cyperaceae). Sap and other non-floral resources

Gemmed Satyr

Cyllopsis gemma Probably Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) not reported
Carolina Satyr
Hermeuptychia sosybuis Carpet grass (Axonopus compressus), centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides); probably St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), and others. Sap and rotting fruit

Little Wood Nymph
Megisto cymela Orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) and centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides). Sap, aphid honeydew, and rarely flower nectar.

Common Wood Nymph 
Cercyonis pegala Purpletop (Tridens flavus) and other grasses. Rotting fruit, flower nectar
Wild Silk Moths Saturniidae
Giant Silkworm Moths Saturniiae

Tuliptree silkmoth

Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) in the magnolia family Adults do not feed.
Cecropia silkmoth


Hyalophora cecropia Various trees and shrubs including box elder (Acer negundo), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), wild cherries and plums (Prunus), apples (Malus), alder and birch (Betulaceae), dogwoods (Cornus), and willows (Salix). Adults do not feed.
Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths Sphingidae
Macroglossinae Macroglossinae

Hummingbird clearwing
Hemaris thysbe Honeysuckle (Lonicera), snowberry (Symphoricarpos), hawthorns (Crataegus), cherries and plums (Prunus), and European cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus). wide variety of flowers including  beebalm, red clover, lilac, phlox, snowberry, cranberry, blueberry, vetch, and thistles