Considering herbs and butterflies

Last week we wrote of an article about pollinators in the garden. The article was written by a gal from Texas, Ann McCormick and was in the The Herb Quarterly magazine.

We’ll continue with more of her information, but first we’d like to add host plants of some of the butterflies common to our gardens. For this information we referred to old butterfly books and the computer and we urge you to research those you are interested in.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The small sulfur butterflies, which can be yellow or white, feed on clover. The Fritillary feed mostly on violets and are usually found around swampy areas. The Red Admirals feed on nettle. Another butterfly we enjoy seeing in and around our gardens is the Mourning Cloak. The eggs are laid, many of them, around small branches of elm, willow and poplar trees.

Now back to the pollinators. McCormick wrote of the importance of growing three to four plants of the same variety, and growing then in a square or round area. Adult butterflies have relatively poor eyesight, so the larger the target, the easier to find. Bees also benefit from large plantings. So, there is still time to pick up some herb plants and see what interesting insects you will attract. And who knows, you may have the largest production ever.

As you were reading this, did you think those same gals said to place your cole plants in many areas, thus hiding them from insects. Yes, we did. You could say we speak out of both sides of our mouth.

In this article, McCormick listed more herbs that would attract insects/pollinators. You may find this article by looking it up at and Ann McCormick can be found at

A few more words about The Herb Quarterly magazine: it can be seen online, but LaVonne likes to hold a magazine or a book in her hands so continues to subscribe. One of the departments covered in each magazine is called Herbal Healthwatch. The man who writes these articles is Michael Castleman and has written books about healing herbs. He keeps his readers current on the latest information and tests of herbs. Information about ginger, chocolate, soy, saw palmetto and lavender were highlighted in this same magazine.

Since we mentioned bees, and we have all heard of the decline of the honey bee population, there was a report on bees in the May 15 issue of the Yard and Garden Line. They had new and updated information on bee health put out by the USDA and EPA. This information was written be Jeffrey Hahn, assistant extension entomologist. He stated there are multiple factors for honey bee decline. These factors include parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. It was interesting to note pesticide exposure was the last one listed.

Several suggestions were presented to stem the decline of these honey bees. They were encouraged to have increased genetic diversity and better nutrition for these colonies. They also called for improved collaboration and sharing between beekeepers and that information be reported in a timely and accurate manner. Let’s hope they are able to turn this around.

LaVonne Swart & Sue Morris, Master Gardeners