Although they make for fantastic garden decor… I’m not totally convinced that butterflies actually use butterfly houses? I know they use feeders, especially those that imitate nature via “wicks”. The wicks absorb the nectar and butterflies actually feed from them, simulating the same process as getting nectar from flowers. They will also eat over-ripened fruit, you can view the video below for proof on that one! Oranges, bananas, strawberries and melons seem to work well.
If feeding butterflies nectar, it’s always best to add a sponge (preferably a new one) to the dish. The sponge absorbs the nectar and again, acts as a wick. This is strongly recommended as butterflies will not drink from an open source. They will also use shallow salt baths, or “puddlers”. Gardening plays a major role in attracting the winged wonders too. Both host and nectar-producing plants are needed for their attraction. Another item that butterflies (and hummingbirds) adore are leaf misters. The activity in a garden around a mister in summer is truly amazing.
And as far as those butterfly houses? Some say if you put a small branch or twig inside they will use them for shelter, but honestly, I’ve never tried it. The butterfly houses above are handcrafted of solid cypress. Both durable and attractive in any landscape, they’re meant to last for many years. They include classic copper accents and their own mounting pole too.
Butterflies’ migration spans thousands of miles, and although they can survive cold weather, these winged wonders will die if they get wet when temperatures drop. Providing butterfly houses may just help the Monarch’s population. Although they don’t hibernate during the warm summer season, creating a butterfly-friendly habitat will help them flourish and thrive.
Because butterflies will not drink from an open water source, things like leaf misters and puddlers in your yard are most helpful for a fresh water source during extreme heat. Having both the host plant for their metamorphosis and nectar plants for food will encourage population growth too.
Check out this interesting video from Defenders of Wildlife and Discovery on the Monarch Butterfly.
Although I can’t say for sure that butterflies actually use butterfly houses, there sure are some beauties to adorn your garden. This pole-mounted butterfly house features rich redwood with hand-etched glass panels. I can say with certainty that butterflies absolutely adore the gentle spray from leaf misters! We use two during the summer months and see daily activity throughout the season.
Over ripened fruit is also a butterfly favorite. Bananas, melon, pears and oranges that are just a tad past their prime are a sweet treat for these winged wonders. The fruit also attracts fruit flies and these provide butterflies with additional protein. Molded fruit is not advised, so it must be monitored to assure this doesn’t happen. Set fruit out on a plate, on a deck or porch rail, even an up-turned pot will work. But the butterfly garden must be part of the equation too.
Native plants to provide nectar are necessary in creating a butterfly garden. Wild Columbine, Rose Verbena, Button Bush, Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, Asters, and Milkweed are a few favorites. Besides nectar plants, host plants are needed for the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. These plants will likely be “munched” in the process, but they’ll come back again next year, and you’re providing critical butterfly habitat by letting them go. Some of the more popular host plants include Parsley, Dill, Fennel, Carrot and Milkweed. Trees include Wild Cherry, Willow, Plum and Poplar.
Adding a place to “warm in the sun” is also quite attractive to butterflies. You can easily arrange heat-absorbing rocks in a sunny area, add some sand and salts and keep the area moist to further entice butterflies. It’s recommended to first line the area with plastic to keep the salts from leaking into the soil. Definitely stop using any pesticides, chemicals or fertilizers in the area as well, most people tend to overlook this important factor when creating a butterfly habitat.
So… although I can’t say for sure that butterflies use butterfly houses… these are some good ideas on creating an enticing butterfly habitat at your home.