Bristow Butterfly Garden

The 2-acre Bristow Butterfly Garden provides a habitat to attract and support butterflies and moths during all stages of their life cycle. Within the garden you will find a swallowtail and monarch nursery, nectar garden, moonlight garden and butterfly bush collection.  Our Butterfly House opens seasonally and provides an up close experience with a variety of butterflies.

Butterfly House Guide


Nectar Plants

Nectar is a sugary liquid produced in flowers. A butterfly feeds by sucking nectar with its proboscis, a tube-shaped mouth. Here are some of the nectar plants you may see in the Garden:

  • Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Blazing Star
  • Butterfly bush
  • Butterfly weed
  • Buttonbush
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Cosmos
  • Goldenrod
  • Joe-pye weed
  • Lantana
  • Marigold
  • Pentas
  • Phlox
  • Purple coneflower
  • Rose mallow
  • Sage
  • Sedum
  • Speedwell
  • Summersweet
  • Tickseed
  • Verbena
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnia

Host Plants

A plant used by caterpillars for food is called a host plant. The Butterfly Garden features several areas of host plants to nurture the caterpillars.

Black Swallowtail Nursery
Plants in the carrot family are the favorite food of black swallowtail caterpillars. Parsley and fennel are in the formal garden while Queen Anne’s Lace is in the meadow nearby.

Monarch Nursery
Monarch butterfly caterpillars like plants in the milkweed family. Bloodflower, butterfly weed and swamp milkweed are in the garden while others are in the meadow.

Other Host Plants in the Garden

  • Aster
  • Bermuda grass
  • Black Cherry
  • Blue False Indigo
  • Clover
  • Hackberry
  • Hollyhock
  • Hops
  • Locust
  • Mallow
  • Passion Vine
  • Red Bay
  • Rose mallow
  • Sassafras
  • Senna
  • Sorrel
  • Spicebush
  • Sweetbay
  • Switchgrass
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Vetch
  • Violet

What Butterflies Will I See?

The scientific order of Lepidoptera can be broken into 3 main groups – True Butterflies, Skippers and Moths. Here are some of the types of butterflies, skippers and moths you are most likely to see in the Garden.  For photos of more butterflies, click here.

Swallowtails
Generally the largest butterflies in our area. They usually have tails on their hindwings.

Whites & Sulphurs
Members of this family are mostly white, yellow or orange. These small to medium-sized butterflies are found all around the world.

Gossamer Winged Butterflies
This is a large family of small butterflies with detailed markings. The family is divided into four distinct groups: Coppers, Harvesters, Hairstreaks and Blues.

Brush-Footed Butterflies
The front legs of the adults are short and covered with hairs giving the appearance of having only four legs. They vary in size and appearance so they are often subdivided into smaller groups such as Fritillaries, Crescents, Satyrs, Admirals, Emperors, Milkweeds, Purples and others.

Skippers
Known for their rapid, skipping flight, skippers differ from true butterflies having larger bodies in proportion to their wings. They generally have more muted colors and many larvae feed on grasses.

Sphinx Moths
Sometimes called hawk moths, these large moths are generally active at dusk and occasionally during the day. Most of them feed by hovering in front of the flower, much like a hummingbird.


Butterfly Maze

Butterfly MazeAre you brave enough to try our giant Butterfly Maze?  Follow the path and trace the wings of a giant butterfly. This giant maze is in the shape of a butterfly and covers ½ an acre.  It includes more than 1500 linear feet of pathways.  Can you find the way through?

This maze is not only fun, but the variety of grasses, dandelion, clover and other plants that make up the walls of the maze provide food for many different butterflies.  How many real butterflies will you find along the way?