Host Plants of Virginia

Vascular plants sustain herbivorous insects. Help us learn more about this important ecological relationship in Virginia.

Vascular plants, such as ferns, conifers and flowering plants, support a diversity of herbivorous insects, which in turn pollinate our agricultural crops and sustain wildlife in Virginia, notably many of our migratory songbirds. These herbivorous insects are often specialists of particular plant groups or a particular type of plant food, such as sap, leaf tissue, pollen or nectar. Consequently, documenting local plant diversity is essential for studying these critical ecological relationships. For instance, the massive larvae of the Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis) consume large quantities of leaves from a limited number tree genera, such as walnut (Juglans nigra) and persimmon (Diospyros viriginiana) (see inset; credit, Glenn Montague). In this project, we have assembled herbarium specimens from over 60 vascular plant genera that support the larvae or adults of moths and butterflies in the Mid-Atlantic region. This information was assembled primarily from the resources: "Using native plants to attract butterflies, moths, bees and other pollinators in the Washington, D.C. area" (Green Spring Garden, Fairfax County Park Authority, Virginia; 2016) and "Bringing Nature Home: How you can sustain wildlife using native plants" (Douglas W. Tallamy, Timber Press; 2009).

How to Participate

This project has the following active expeditions:

Expeditions % Complete Join In
Host Plants of Virginia I   100.00% Notes From Nature V2  
George Mason University  
Andrea Weeks 
Contact Title
State lead 
Organization Website
Project Partners
South East Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC) and Virginia Master Naturalists. 
Funding Source
National Science Foundation #EF-1410086, “Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: The Key to the Cabinets: Building and sustaining a research database for a global biodiversity hotspot.” and the Virginia Native Plant Society.   
Geographic Scope
The Commonwealth of Virginia, USA  
Taxonomic Scope
Vascular plants  
Temporal Scope
1880's to present  
Language Skills Required
Virginia, flora, pollinators, host plant, biodiversity, ecology  

Heat Map of Collection Location of Transcribed Specimens