- Community Development
- Fine Arts
- Equine Initiative
- 4-H Youth
- Family and Consumer Sciences
- Ag Information Center
- Ag Magazine
- Office of Diversity
- Ag Weather
- Ag Faculty Council
- Staff Links
- College Store
UK study shows which zinnia cultivar attracts the most butterflies
Many gardeners plant zinnias because of their vibrant colors and ability to attract butterflies. In a recent study, researchers with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture found butterflies are attracted to one zinnia cultivar over others.
UK Entomology Professor Ken Yeargan and Graduate Research Assistant Sarah Colvin found that Lilliput zinnias attracted more than twice the number of butterflies than State Fair, Pinwheel and Oklahoma cultivars during a seven-week period.
"Many people wish to include zinnias in their butterfly gardens so this study was intended to help them determine which cultivar to use to attract the most butterflies," Yeargan said.
Adult butterflies are attracted to zinnias because they feed on their nectar.
Yeargan developed the idea for the study when he noticed the butterflies in his own garden seemed to be more attracted to the Lilliput cultivar.
"I'm not surprised Lilliput attracted more butterflies, but I am surprised at how much they were preferred over the other varieties," he said.
Their study showed the most common species of butterflies prefer Lilliput over the others, and in most cases, do not favor any of the other three cultivars over one another. The only exception was Variegated Fritillary butterflies, which preferred Oklahoma zinnias over State Fair ones.
"I grew zinnias before, but never paid attention to which varieties were attracting the most butterflies. But when we were collecting data, we could pick out the plots that were Lilliput because of the number of butterflies attracted to them," Colvin said.
The four cultivars used in the study were among the most commonly available in mixed colors. The researchers collected data from each of their 16 plots once a week in the morning and afternoon during the study.
Kentucky is home to at least 151 butterfly species. During the study, Yeargan and Colvin found 30 species and 2,355 total butterflies.
They are not sure why the Lilliput variety attracts more butterflies, but Yeargan speculates it could have something to do with the amount or quality of Lilliput's nectar.
While Lilliput zinnias were found to attract more butterflies, Yeargan said butterflies must be in the vicinity of the plants in order to be attracted. Zinnias are not able to attract them from long distances.
Seeds of the cultivars used in the study are available at most garden centers or from sources on the Internet.
Extension helps vegetable growers branch out into hydroponics
Matt and Jerry Wyatt of Heartland Hydroponics in Marshall County, always had been traditional vegetable producers but wanted to better utilize...
For tree farms, less is more when it comes to pesticides
Some commercial tree farm managers who are used to applying large volumes of pesticides to control insects and diseases on their operations are trying a new management system using half the amount.
Horticulturalists with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture are part of an effort led by The Ohio State University (OSU) to teach nursery and farm managers...
Blame cool July on El Niņo
With less than one week left in July, no hurricane has formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Meteorologists at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture largely attribute this anomaly to El Niño, which also may be the reason July 2009 will be one of the coolest Julys in the past 100 years.
"The Climate Prediction Center defines El Niño as...