Red Clover and June Butterflies

In mid-June in Detroit, Summer meadow wildflowers are just beginning to bloom and butterflies are becoming active. Among the flowers now blooming, one is clearly attracting more butterflies than others: Red Clover.

Other flowers that are butterfly magnets — like Wild Bergamot, Purple Coneflower, Joe Pye Weed — usually start blooming in July. So, for now, I walk through Red Clover patches, phone camera in hand. (All photos here were taken in June, 2022, in the park.)

Silver-spotted Skipper
Monarch
European Skipper

Red Clover, a native of Eurasia, was brought to North America centuries ago for agricultural purposes. It is used as a fodder crop and to improve the soil. It fixes nitrogen, a plant fertilizer.

Red Clover has long been naturalized here and bees, butterflies, and other insects are attracted to it for pollin and nectar.

Common Ringlet
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

“Butterfly season” in Eliza Howell Park, the weeks when they are most abundant, begins in July. Based on the number of species that I have already seen visiting Red Clover in June…

American Lady
Cabbage White
Hobomok Skipper

… it looks like 2022 might be a good butterfly year.

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