Some of nature’s won­ders require that you stop, pause and look closely. This isn’t one of them. There’s a rea­son the Bud­dleia is called a but­ter­fly bush. It’s cov­ered in swal­low­tail butterflies!

This but­ter­fly bush is the Bud­dleia davidii ‘White Splen­dour’ (I think). It is approx­i­mately 8′ in diam­e­ter and nearly 10′ tall. It was relo­cated a cou­ple of years ago to a more roomy loca­tion because I didn’t believe it could pos­si­bly grow this big.

All sum­mer long the but­ter­flies are numer­ous and indus­tri­ous in our gar­den. It’s one of the rea­sons I grow dill but hardly ever get to eat any. The cater­pil­lars eat it all. Glut­tons. Glo­ri­ous gluttons.

By far the East­ern Tiger Swal­low­tails out­num­ber the other but­ter­flies. But we also have Painted Admi­rals, Black Swal­low­tails and—the glo­ri­ous Zebra Swal­low­tail. (You can see those in the video below.)

A while back a friend of mine was envy­ing our pro­lific Paw­paw patch because it is host to the lar­val Zebra Swal­low­tail. If you don’t know Paw­paws, they are a  fruit tree native to North Amer­ica. The fruit of the Paw­paw is rather sweet and mushy. For some it’s an acquired taste. But Zebra Swal­low­tails just love Paw­paws.  In fact, it is also called the Paw­paw butterfly.

I wish I were a bet­ter pho­tog­ra­pher and video­g­ra­pher to share how the bush comes alive. This is def­i­nitely one of nature’s big­ger shows in my garden.


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  • Frances says:

    So many but­ter­flies! How won­der­ful that scene must be. It would be hard for me to go inside and leave it. The Zebras are delightful!

  • Gail says:

    It’s a splen­did sight Robin. I can only imag­ine that many but­ter­flies in one spot. I count myself lucky to have sev­eral vis­it­ing the gar­den at once. I just tasted my first paw-paw; it has a pleas­ant taste but filled with a lot of seeds. gail

  • Jodie says:

    Amaz­ing. So beau­ti­ful. I want to really work on my but­ter­fly gar­den this fall.

  • cristina says:

    absolutely amaz­ing. i have never seen so many but­ter­flies in a sin­gle place.

  • Susan says:

    Do you prune your bud­dleia very much? And do you keep it dead­headed? Mine just quits bloom­ing if I don’t dead­head reli­giously, which I often don’t. Also, is yours in full sun or does it have a lit­tle bit of shade?

  • Robin Ripley says:

    Hi Susan,
    No, I don’t prune this bud­dleia at all. It’s just too huge. There is a smaller one near the house (I have sev­eral) that I think I will try prun­ing next year to see if it per­forms bet­ter. But this one just keep grow­ing and push­ing out the flow­ers. I cut it way, way back each spring. Because of its size, it’s a process that now requires a full-sized saw. But that’s the best way to treat it.

    Thanks for visiting!


  • Hi Robin,

    Is that a sin­gle lens reflex you used in that click?

  • Layanee says:

    Wow. You are but­ter­fly rich. I am won­der­ing if they like the white bb best. My daugh­ter has one and it is also cov­ered with but­ter­flies. My pink has them here and there. The video is a nice treat.

  • What amaz­ing shots. You’ve man­aged to cap­ture the very essence and beauty of my favourite insect. It’s so sad that these lovely crea­tures have such a short life span.

  • Love the post about swal­low tail but­ter­flies. Dill is good food for but­ter­flies I didn’t know that learned some­thing good today. Thank you for sharing

  • Plant Stands says:

    Thanks for shar­ing the abun­dance of all those beau­ti­ful butterflies!

  • But­ter­fly bushes are quite lovely. Mar­gin­ally hardy where I gar­den though. Appar­ently in some areas of south­ern USA they are now con­sid­ered a nui­sance plant and they encour­age peo­ple not to grow them. Too much of a good thing I guess.

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