I like Pussytoes (Antennaria spp.) for a ground cover. They are drought tolerant and I have patches of them growing in various degrees of sun and shade.
However, I recently became concerned when I saw leaves that looked damaged. I was pleasantly surprised when my friend, Connie May of Chrysalis Natural Landscapes, told me the damage was due to caterpillars of the American lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis). And I was relieved when she told me the caterpillars will not destroy the plants.
When I unrolled one of the curled leaves, I found this small caterpillar inside.
Looking closer, I found these larger caterpillars.
I find them quite attractive. Although their spines can help protect them from predators, I touched them and found them to be harmless.
This has been a fun learning experience. I now appreciate pussytoes, not only as an effective ground cover, but also as a host plant for American lady butterflies. The largest caterpillar has now made a chrysalis. I hope to share the rest of the story and images of the butterfly that emerges in a future post.