What Is a Host Plant?

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about pollinators and native plants, which is awesome! Awareness in anything is the first step in creating change to those things which no longer serve us. Our pollinators are very important to our ecosystem, they’re the building block to our food chain and pollinate our food and flowers! A pollinator is an organism that helps transfer pollen from flowers from one plant to the next. Plants are highly evolved to being pollinated certain ways, and it’s a vast system out there.

Our pollinators consist of birds, bats, butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, flies, and other insects too. Butterflies and bees are our iconic pollinators and solely rely on food from plants. What do our pollinators eat? When pollinating, our butterflies are eating nectar from the flower and transferring pollen as they do it. Bees collect pollen from flowers to take back to the nest for food. Mama bees create a food from pollen that baby bees eat to grow up into bees.

Butterflies and moths however, lay eggs on plants that turn into caterpillars. These plants are called host plants, because they act as a host for the caterpillar to grow up on. Certain native trees can attract hundreds of different species of butterflies while perennial native plants are most host specific, some only hosting one or two different species of butterflies or moths. If you would like to attract certain butterflies, you can plant specific native plants that will attract them.

Watch a video on my YouTube channel about the Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed

Monarch Caterpillar
Monarch caterpillar eating milkweed, its only host plant

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