It is an incredible experience for gardeners watching colorful butterflies flying cheerfully among flowers. However, it’s not the only reason to have them in your garden. Butterflies appear in your area generally because of the natural food chain and optimal conditions for them to lay eggs and feed.
Planting natural flowers and plants that provide food for local butterflies is a good way to keep them coming back year after year. Moreover, butterflies are important pollinators, just like bees. A butterfly’s life cycle requires that they have food and host plants to pollinate. Your garden will be thriving with butterflies.
You can also encourage the butterflies to stay by putting up butterfly feeders next to your garden. Butterfly feeders can be used to attract butterflies in the same way that bird feeders and hummingbird feeders do. They also hold nectar, fruits, and other staple foods. These visitors will return to your feeder again and again if you provide the right food. They will fly from the feeder to your plants, making their home in your yard.
There are various butterfly feeders to choose from. Some models can be attached to a pole or hung from a tree. Standard models come with ports, a fruit compartment, or a bowl to attract butterflies. Many have special components that repel bees and other undesirable critters.
Best Butterfly Feeders
Can Butterfly Feeders Really Attract Butterflies?
Yes. But it depends on butterfly species and the food types. Because different butterflies have different preferences for food. It’s a smart idea to offer a variety to attract butterflies.
Most butterflies are content with sweet, tasty liquid or semiliquid food, such as nectar, overripe fruits. But some prefer foods that are not as tasty, such as animal manure or tree sap. The most effective foods are sweet, gooey, and the more smelly the better. This is particularly useful when native plants are not nearby. It is also useful in a well-tended garden.
You can fill a pie tin with overripe or mushy bananas, honey, orange juice, or sliced oranges and place it near plants. Your butterfly feeders will attract butterflies like birds as if it was actual flower. However, the butterfly feeder is just one way to attract butterflies into your garden. Actual plant flowers are the best way to make them happy and stay long in your garden.
What to Consider When Buying Butterfly Feeders?
Butterfly feeder types
There are many styles to choose from when shopping for a butterfly feeder.
Hanging feeders: The most affordable and popular butterfly feeders are hanging feeders with ports and have similar designs to hummingbird feeders. They include plastic feeding ports, nectar compartments, and plastic or metal hanging hooks or chains. Many models have small dishes that can be used to provide fruit pieces for winged insects.
Stake feeders: These feeders are decorative and more expensive than the plastic models with ports but they are also the most attractive as they are designed as a flower attached to the metal stake that’s inserted into the garden soil. These feeders have large, flat glass bowls in the flower top, which can hold nectar or fruit.
Butterfly feeding kits: These kits are not meant to be placed in your garden to attract insects, but rather to educate children. These kits come with mesh habitats and food for caring for butterflies and caterpillars. You can purchase live caterpillars in some kits.
Butterfly feeder parts
Each butterfly feeder is composed of many parts. These parts are designed to hold the units and allow for the feeding of butterflies when they arrive.
Stake, hook, and chain: The majority of butterfly feeders can be secured either by hanging from a rope or by putting a stake into the ground. You can find decorative feeders with glass bowls in models that have chains or stakes. Most butterfly feeders with ports are attached with a rod and a hook to hang from. You can place staked butterfly feeders anywhere in your garden or yard that has deep soil. Hanging models can be placed on trees, landscape poles or ornamental gardens.
Nectar compartment: It is provided for nectar storage in hanging butterfly feeders that have ports. It is covered with a cover that holds fruit dishes and ports.
Bowl: A bowl is a container that holds nectar and fruits for butterfly feeders. These small vessels are usually made of glass or plastic.
Fruit dishes: Many butterfly feeders with a covered nectar container also include small, built-in dishes that can be used to place pieces of fruit. A feeder will usually have several fruit dishes, just like ports.
Ports: Some feeders have ports rather than open bowls. These tiny holes are found on the top of a butterfly feeder. They allow butterflies to drink the nectar beneath. Some feeders have ports that can be replaced with wicks. These wicks mimic the flower parts and encourage butterflies to drink.
Dropper and feeding cup: These are available in butterfly kits. They allow children to feed butterflies and caterpillars.
What Should You Put in A Butterfly Feeder?
Butterflies eat organic materials, such as overripe or rotten fruits. They also drink nectar (sugar extracted from plants) from flowers. Because butterflies have a proboscis, which is a small, straw-like mouthpiece. This tube allows butterflies to reach into the flowers and extract nectar.
Some butterflies also eat pests like aphids, which can be dangerous to garden plants. However, not all butterflies will be attracted to all types of flowers and many people don’t have the above items.
You can make nectar with honey and water. In addition, ripe fruit pieces with various colors, such as red watermelon and strawberry, yellow bananas and mangoes, and orange juice or pieces, are attractive to butterflies. You can add some water to the dish to deter ants from getting into the food.
To make these foods more appealing to butterflies, you can combine ingredients by adding honey, orange juice, or sugar water to the overripe fruit.
How to Maintain A Butterfly Feeder?
Change the fruit in your feeder often. Even though butterflies will eat rotten fruits, it is a good idea for them to be replaced if they start to smell, turn dark or attract many flies.
Change the nectar more frequently to keep it fresh. This is usually about every two to three days. Especially when the temperature exceeds 85℉.
Clean the feeder regularly. If your feeder gets dirty fast, give it a thorough clean every two weeks. Make sure to inspect the ports and clean out any food or debris that may have built up. For quick cleaning, you can simply put a dishwasher-safe feeder in your washing machine.
Pay attention to the weather. You should make sure that the feeder is taken down in case of a storm, as they can easily blow off trees. And the water should be emptied when it rains.
You can place your feeder only in busy months for butterflies such as spring and fall without worrying about whether they will die.
Repel other insects. Petroleum jelly can be used to repel ants from your butterfly feeder. This will create a barrier between sweet nectar and unwanted guests. You can also add some water to the fruit container to prevent ants.
Where to Put the Butterfly Feeder?
Because butterflies love the sun and can thrive on warmth from the sun, you should place the butterfly feeder in an area with lots of sunshine. This will make butterflies most active.
Place the feeder in a visible area near your home so you can easily take care of it. Also, you can easily see the beautiful winged beauties.