Admirals Blues Brushfoots Coppers Emperors Fritillaries Hairstreaks Harvesters Leafwings Metalmarks Monarchs Satyrs Skippers Snouts Sulphurs Swallowtails Whites

How To Attract Butterflies In Fall

Excerpted from: Fall Butterfly Flowers

Red-Spotted Purple, Limenitis arthemis astyanax Most people think of summer as the ideal time for butterfly gardening, but there are many fall butterflies seen in the fall as well. It's important to plant fall flowers for the butterflies because they need energy. September is a peak time for butterflies. Butterflies are almost guaranteed to linger in your garden into autumn and even winter if their caterpillar (larval) food plants are available.

Monarchs are one of the butterflies usually seen late in the year, appearing around September. Their larval food is milkweed. Monarchs seem to fly north before the emergence of butterfly weed, an orange milkweed found on dry, sunny roadsides.

For more information on Monarchs in fall, see Monarch Fall Migration

Unlike migrating monarchs, many butterfly species often stay in hospitable gardens. There is a wide variety of fall butterfly flowers available that will grow in all areas of the country. Many fall flowers last until the first frost or even later, providing ample opportunities for your fluttering friends to feed. Besides Monarch butterflies, commonly seen in the fall are: Cloudless Sulphur, Question Mark, Buckeye, Tiger Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Red Admiral, Red Spotted Purple or Black Swallowtail butterlies.

Fall Care For Your Butterfly Garden

You should take special care in that part of the garden when doing your fall clean-up chores. Just because it looks like all the butterflies have gone away does not mean there aren't larvae or chrysalises hanging out some place you can't see.

Resist the urge to clean up this part of the garden because you might be disrupting or even killing the next generation of butterflies that will grace your garden next year.

Fall Butterfly Flower List


Asters are a great choice for butterflies, particularly the New England aster which has orange-centered purple flowers and can grow up to six feet high. These flowers appreciate regular watering.


Goldenrod is a wonderful plant that is good for butterflies and comes in many different varieties. There are many varieties for your sunny location.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe-Pye weed is another good choice for an easy growing butterfly flower. This plant also likes consistent water, well-drained soil and full sun. They will reward you with tall plants and masses of small purple flowers that also attract bees.

Other good choices for fall-blooming butterfly flowers are:

Also Try These Plants

• Sunflowers
• Mistflower
• Mountain Mint

• Milkweed
• Meadow Blazing Star
• Anise Hyssop

• Lavenders
• Oregano
• Sage family

Keeping the butterflies in your yard as long as possible is a great way to extend the season and put off thinking about the cold weather that is sure to follow soon.

Further Information:

 Butterflies and Moths of North America
 Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Assn (NABA)
 The Butterfly Site

Subscribe to newsletter logo

Butterfly Metamorphosis

What causes the radical transformation from caterpillar to butterfly? How does a caterpillar rearrange itself into a butterfly? What happens inside a chrysalis or cocoon?

Bee Quiz Logo

Take The Butterfly Quiz

Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about butterfly pollination. This quiz is intended for fun, in a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar

Caterpillar ID Guide

Identify who is nibbling on your native plants. You will find over 30 Wisconsin native butterfly caterpillars.

Bees flying footer graphic