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Idaho State University

Butterflies


Numerous butterflies feed on nectar from flowers as adults, but some may use sap, fruit, aphid honeydew, mud, dung, carrion, or blood. Most adults are spurious pollinators, because food intake is not always necessary and are opportunistic, with each individual visiting perhaps dozens of plant species. The larvae typically feed on the flowers, fruits, stems, or roots of their host plants and in some species, the adult will feed on the nectar of the host plant and may aid in the pollination of that plant.

Butterfly families and genera often visting flowering plants and their larval host plants (click on the insect names in table to view images if available):

FamilyGenusLarval host plants
Hesperiidae
 
 
 
 
Carterocephalus Calamagrostis purpurascens, Bromus spp.
Hesperia Poa spp.
Polites Phleum pratense, Poa spp.
Thymelicus Phleum pratense
Thorybes Trifolium repens
Lycaenidae
 
 
 
Lycaena Rumex spp. Ericaceae
Plebeius Lupinus spp.
Callophrys Arceuthobium spp., Pinus contorta, P. ponderosa, P flexis. flexis
Euphilotes Erigonium spp.
Nymphalidae
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Boloria P. bistortoides, V. scoparium, Salix spp.
Cercyonis Gramineae
Erebia Gramineae, Cyperaceae
Nymphalis Urtica dioica
Oeneis Gramineae
Phyciodes Aster spp.
Polygonia Ericaceae, Ribes spp.
Speyeria Viola spp.
Vanessa Cirsium spp., A. margaritacea, A. millefolium, Lupinus spp.
Papilionidae
Parnassius Sedum lanceolatum
Pieridae
 
 
Colias Vaccinium spp.
Anthocharis Arabis spp.
Pieris Cruciferae, Thlaspi arvense

 

Moths


Many moth species feed on nectar from flowers as adults. Most adults are spurious pollinators, because food intake is not always necessary, and opportunistic, with each individual visiting perhaps dozens of plant species. The larvae typically feed on the flowers, fruits, stems, or roots of their host plants and in some species, the adult will feed on the nectar of the host plant and may aid in the pollination of that plant. Much of their pollinating activity takes place during dusk or at night when it is difficult to observe. Of the many moth species that pollinate only a few geometer (Geometridae), owlet (Noctuidae), and sphinx (Sphingidae) moth species have been regularily studied and are considered some of the most efficient moth pollinators.

Moth families and genera often visting flowering plants and their larval host plants (click on the insect names in table to view images if available):

FamilyGenusLarval host plants
Arctiidae Gnophaela Epilobium spp., Mertensia spp., Arabis spp.
Noctuidae
 
 
Heliothis Salicaceae
Schinia Asteraceae
Autographa many plant species
Sesiidae Albuna Epilocium spp., Barbareae spp.
Sphingidae Sphinx