New Hanover County has at least 92 species of butterfly that call this area home; there are 175 species of butterfly across the entire state of North Carolina. There is a tremendous amount of biodiversity within the Cape Fear Arch, a special geographic feature stretching from Cape Lookout to Cape Romain that contains nationally significant animal and plant communities. New Hanover County, an area directly in the middle of the Cape Fear Arch, vividly illustrate this local diversity through the butterflies that live in our own backyards. Airlie encourages schools and property owners to sustain butterfly populations through the use of native plants. To learn more about local, native plants, go on a plant walk with the Southeast Coast Chapter of the Native Plant Society.
Every species of butterfly eats a specific type of plant or group of plants as a caterpillar. The larva, or caterpillar, eats foliage of the species-specific host plant it is adapted to eat. Each species of butterfly eats something different, so it is important to provide the plants that our local butterflies are adapted to eat, which means native plants. As an adult, butterflies use liquid sources of food for nourishment, such as flower nectar, sap, animal droppings, mineral-rich puddles and rotten fruit.
Gardening for Butterflies
Use the following resources to learn more about butterfly gardening and to bring butterflies into your yard.
Butterfly Images and Notes
Link to List of Butterflies of NHC PDF
Jeff Pippen’s NC butterfly pictures
Will Cook’s NC Butterfly pictures
Notes on North Carolina Butterflies
The Butterflies of North Carolina
The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina