Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Contrary to some opinions, that pesky plant known as 'Spanish needles' or 'devil's pitchfork' (because of the seeds that stick to our clothes) isn't all bad. It's also a plant whose white and yellow composite flowers produce a steady supply of nectar that's very attractive to butterflies. Indeed, some butterfly gardening guides recommend planting Spanish needles. I don't think so, thank you. There are plenty of volunteer Spanish needle plants in my yard, no need to plant more. Seriously, Spanish needles is a very important nectar plant because it blooms in abundance year-round in South Florida, providing a reliable food supply for many species. While an important nectar plant for adults, however, most butterflies are very specific about where they lay their eggs, selecting other plants that provide optimum nourishment for their caterpillars. To produce more butterflies, we have to provide both nectar for the adults and appropriate greens for their young.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.