Are Butterflies Attracted to Lavender?

Sara Sabharwal
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Lavender is a popular perennial flower to grow in your garden and for good reason. The essential oils and smells that come from the plant are known to help calm humans and other animals. But, do insects love it too? More specifically, are butterflies attracted to lavender?

Yes, butterflies are attracted to lavender. The aroma in the breeze and the bright purple colour are enough to bring in butterflies from far and wide for a delicious snack. 

Why are Butterflies Attracted to Lavender?

Like many purple flowers and flowering bushes, lavender’s bluish-purple foliage calls out to butterflies. Butterflies love to eat the sweet nectar from the lavender flowers when it is in bloom. 

Lavender is a beautiful addition to your garden. The colouring of the plant is similar to a butterfly bush. Butterfly bushes are known for their beautiful purple flowers that grow vertical out of the bush. Similar to the shape of lavender, butterfly bushes provide butterflies with lots of surface area to find and eat nectar. 

Do Butterflies Like the Smell of Lavender?

Yes, butterflies like the smell of lavender and it’s one of the reasons butterflies (and other pollinators) are able to find lavender so easily. Both the purple colour and scent stand out to butterflies and draws them in.

Do Butterflies Eat Lavender?

Butterflies love to eat from lavender plants. The sweet nectar located in the many small flowers on the plant provides many opportunities for the butterflies to feast. Butterflies eat nectar from plants and in the process help transfer pollen from one flower to another. 

When the butterflies flutter from one flower to another, they carry pollen on their legs and bodies. We usually think of bees when we picture pollinating insects, but butterflies help provide pollination as well.

Growing lavender in your garden is a great way to increase the butterfly and bee population in your garden.

Which Butterflies are Attracted to Lavender? 

While lavender does attract a wide range of butterflies and other flying pollinators, the most common butterfly varieties you will see fluttering in your garden would be Horace’s Duskywings and Western Tiger Swallowtails.

These butterflies are commonly found in places where there is lots of lavender for them to consume.

Monarch butterflies also have a sweet tooth for lavender nectar. It’s a common misconception that Monarch butterflies only consume milkweed but, when they are in their butterfly form, they are attracted to a range of plants.

This misconception is because Monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat milkweed! In fact, this plant is so vital to Monarch butterflies that the American state of Illinois made milkweed its state flower to inspire more gardeners and farmers to plant some in their gardens! 

What Insects are Attracted to Lavender?

Lavender is loved by a range of bugs you’ll find in the garden, most importantly butterflies and bees. The other benefit of lavender is that it is fairly pest-proof being ignored by both aphids and slugs.

Which Lavender is Best for Attracting Butterflies?

Like bees, butterflies are attracted to sweet-smelling purple and blue plants. Providing that you pick a lavender with bright purple flowers and a strong scent, then you’ll have picked a good lavender variety.

  • Lavandula Angustifolia – This is the common lavender. It hasn’t been hybridized or messed around with so is one of the best options to go for when picking a lavender to plant for butterflies.
  • Lavandula Stoechas – This is French lavender or even butterfly lavender. This isn’t because of its ability to attract butterflies, however, but because of the shape of the flower tops which appear to have wings. The good news is that it does do a great job at drawing in butterflies.
  • Lavandula Intermedia – This is a hybrid lavender which doesn’t smell quite as strong as the previous two options. The benefit of this hybrid lavender is that it tolerates hotter and drier weather.

How Do You Create a Butterfly Garden?

If you are looking for a way to increase the butterfly population in your garden, you have to think of a few different perspectives:

You will want to be sure that you have enough food flowers full of nectar that are easily accessible to adult butterflies. The best flowers would be large flat flower faces like asters. The other thing you have to consider is growing enough host plants for caterpillars to grow, eat, and cocoon on.

As previously mentioned, Monarch butterfly caterpillars will only eat milkweed plants. Growing a few milkweed plants will almost guarantee a host of beautiful orange butterflies in your garden.

Dill and asters also make a great addition to your garden for caterpillars. Brightly coloured asters are also a favourite of adult butterflies as well.

In addition to food sources, butterflies need places to rest and water to drink. Provide many flat surfaces for butterflies to rest and sunbathe during the day.

A shallow birdbath can provide water for butterflies, but they usually prefer a mud puddle. This is because they can get the minerals they need as the water dries.

Be sure that these areas are sheltered from strong winds and also offer shady areas for butterflies to escape the midday heat. 

Want to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden?

We’ve Put Together an Ultimate Guide to Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden Including Our Top 11 Plants You NEED to Start Growing Today:

Summary

Butterflies are not only beautiful insects to watch in your garden, but they also provide pollination. Growing plants that help butterflies continue their life cycle is important.

Lavender is a common favourite of many species of butterflies. The calming aroma and the sweet nectar combined with the beautiful bluish-purple hues attract many pollinators including butterflies. 

In addition to lavender, butterflies are also attracted to butterfly bushes, asters, bee balm, and dill. Milkweed is the only food a Monarch butterfly larvae will eat, so growing this in your garden will increase your chances of having the bold orange butterflies fluttering around your garden space. 


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