Enticing butterflies has become a huge past-time for many gardeners and backyard birders alike. Earning nicknames like “flying flowers” and “winged jewels” these graceful beings bring joy and delight to many with their sheer presence. But what really works to bring butterflies to your place? There’s butterfly houses, and butterfly feeders, and butterfly baths, and puddlers too!
Although I’m no expert, during summer months you’ll find daily butterfly activity in our garden that’s pretty amazing. We have no butterfly house, nor do we use a feeder. The secret is a leaf mister and flowers which provide food in the form of nectar. Host plants are extremely important too – this is where butterflies lay their eggs. Host plants also provide a food source for the emerging caterpillar. Be forewarned though…heavy munching will occur on your host plants.
We see mostly Monarchs and Swallowtails, and Milkweed serves as the host plant. Lots of native shrubs and flowers entice butterflies and keep them around all season. Mature White Fringe Trees line the back yard, Service Berry shrubs sit in the front, Columbine, Trumpet Vine, Native Hibiscus, and Bottlebrush are just a few other plantings around the yard.
Butterflies do adore over-ripened fruit like bananas, oranges, melon and pears, but you must be sure the fruit does not mold. Butterfly puddlers are popular too, but it’s rare that they’ll drink from an open water source. Instead, the clay absorbs the water, and butterflies will sit upon the dampened clay surface. If using a butterfly feeder, it should have a wick to absorb and draw up nectar from the basin, as butterflies will eat from the wick.
This season create a butterfly habitat by planting a few native species that will help them thrive and flourish. Add a leaf mister and you’ll see the increase in activity. If you build it… they will come!
Versatile for placement almost anywhere in the yard or garden, the rubber tubing is actually wrapped around a simple plant stake here. Our other mister extends over the railing of the front porch, coiled around a metal deck bracket.
The butterfly feeders in this yard are mostly natural. Consisting of host plants, like milkweed, butterflies may feast on nectar from perennial flowers like lantana, trumpet vine, and native hibiscus. There is also a staked glass butterfly feeder, and sometimes we’ll add over-ripened fruit. Melons, bananas, oranges and strawberries are a few of their favorites. The thing with fruit is to be sure it does not mold, which can be tricky in hot and humid Georgia summers. When the glass flower does not contain fruit, it’s easily moved near the leaf mister, and creates a small pool of water. This bath is frequented by the butterflies as well as hummingbirds and other songbirds.
If you’re not having such great success with butterfly feeders alone, definitely try a leaf mister. By creating an enticing butterfly habitat-you’ll be amazed at the bustling activity of these winged jewels!