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How to Attract Butterflies to a Butterfly House (In 5 Steps)

How to Attract Butterflies to a Butterfly House (In 5 Steps)

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Butterflies can breathe beautiful life into any outdoor space. They are light, colorful, and majestic in ways that most other insects are not. So, it only makes sense to want to attract them into your yard to enjoy all of their beauty.

Butterfly houses are an easy and convenient way to provide shelter for these creatures while also providing a beautiful aesthetic and, most importantly, attracting all of the vibrantly colored butterflies to your yard.

Butterfly houses provide more than simply a place to attract butterflies. They can also provide protection from the elements and even a place to hide from potential predators that may be in the area. Butterfly houses can help to attract them and make your yard look beautiful, too.

Whether you have built your own butterfly house from scratch or purchased one from the store, you might need a little bit of help to attract those butterflies.

Step 1: Paint Your Butterfly House

If you are building a butterfly house of your own, make sure that you paint it in bright colors. You can also purchase a prebuilt butterfly house as well; if it doesn’t come in bright colors, you can always paint it when you get home.

Butterflies tend to be attracted to colors such as red, yellow, pink, and purple. This is because they are attracted to flowers of the same colors and they will flock to your butterfly house in a similar manner. You can even try images of flowers to really enhance the flower aesthetic.

If you don’t want to go with flowers on your butterfly house, try a simple design that combines those colors together to get their attention. Bright colors can be a great way to add color and vibrance to your yard as well, making it stand out in a positive way.

Having bright colors, especially on something that stands out in the way that the butterfly house will, may not be your first choice. So, if you don’t want to go with something like that, you can move on to step two.

Step 2: Plant Flowers

Butterflies are naturally attracted to certain types of flowers (often in the colors outlined above). So, if you don’t want to make the butterfly house this bright, colorful attraction to bring butterflies in, you can try planting some of their favorites around the butterfly house.

Butterflies are attracted to flowers in bright colors such as daisies, asters, purple cornflower, and zinnias. Not only do they attract the butterflies to the area (and to your butterfly house), but they also provide the perfect place for the butterflies to perch.

Adding those flowers to your garden can serve another purpose as well. When they bloom, you can pick a few of each and place them in vases around your home for an additional pop of freshness and color with that natural touch that so many love.

Step 3: Provide Sunlight

Whether it be your butterfly house or a garden bed nearby, it is important to provide ample sunlight. Sunny locations are most likely to attract butterflies because butterflies actually feed in the sunlight and will more often than not frequent areas that are in full exposure to the sun.

Consider placing your butterfly house or feeder, filled with decaying fruit or a sweet nectar, directly in a sunny area. Though it may not be the most appealing thing in the world to you, it should help to attract butterflies to your yard on a regular basis.

Just make sure that you clean the feeder or butterfly house regularly. Food that is left in the area can attract other critters to the area. Remember, you’re looking for more butterflies, not a bunch of nasty bugs or visitors.

Step 4: Provide a Water Source

It is also of the utmost importance that you provide a source of water for the butterflies. All you need is a shallow saucer that will provide more than enough moisture for any butterflies that visit the area. It doesn’t need to be a lot.

You can also pour some water on stone walkways or flat rocks as well. Keeping your butterfly house near your moisture sources will not only help to keep them hydrated but it will encourage them to at least check out the area.

This is what will likely attract them to the area on a regular basis.

Step 5: Host Plants

While butterflies are looking for a source of food, water, and shelter, they are also looking for places where they can lay their eggs. Providing the proper host plants to your yard can give them a safe place for them to reproduce.

Young caterpillars in particular will feed on the foliage as they emerge and might even form a chrysalis on that very same plant. If that weren’t enough, when the butterflies finally emerge, they are more likely to seek out shelter in your butterfly house.

You can enjoy the very circle of life in your own yard with the proper setup and resources. Having butterflies throughout their entire life cycle can be a wonderful thing to observe whenever you look out your back window.

Attracting Them Without a Butterfly House

Perhaps you don’t like the idea of having a butterfly house in your yard but love the idea of attracting those vibrantly colored, majestic butterflies in your yard. So, what should you do to keep them around even if you aren’t providing the shelter of the butterfly house?

The best way to do so is to use plants around your yard that are the most likely to attract them. These plants should be native to your area, which means that they will grow properly in your yard with less maintenance than some other plants would.

Keep in mind, though, butterflies aren’t as picky about the nectar plants they choose as they would be with a host plant.

When it comes to nectar plants, it is important to choose varieties that are natives. Some of the newer cultivars – such as larger flowers, double-petalled, exotic colors, or different shapes – will end up with very little or no nectar.

They can also be difficult for the butterfly to land on as they attempt to extract the nectar as well.

The Best Flowers to Plant for Attracting Butterflies

There are quite a few plants that you can install in your yard to attract butterflies on a regular basis. Asters that are native to your specific area will probably work the best at attracting them.

You can also go with butterfly bushes, which come in blues, pinks, and purples to attract more butterflies than you would with whites and yellows.

There are also cosmos sulphureus, Joe-Pye weed, pentas lanceolata, phlox, tithonia, verbena, bonariensis, and even lantana camara. The latter in particular has an array of beautiful colors that butterflies seem to love.

Butterflies are even attracted to various species of blanket flower, coreopsis, blazing stars, bee balm, ironweeds, stokes aster, goldenrods, and a ton more. You can even find what nectar plants they are most attracted to for more variation and options.

Butterfly Fruit Feeders

As mentioned previously, butterflies are also attracted to rotten or overripe fruit. So, if you are looking to attract butterflies to your yard, you can repurpose that nasty fruit to work for you.

Butterflies definitely prefer nectar, so planting some of the above flowers can be a more effective way of attracting butterflies to the area, but you can’t go wrong with rotting or overripe fruit in a pinch when you want more butterflies hanging around.

Keep in mind that not every butterfly will prefer this method instead. These include the question mark, red spotted purple, green comma, mourning cloak, malachite, hackberry, red admiral, the viceroy, and tawny emperors among others.

The great thing about using rotted fruit is that there are a number of ways that you can serve it up to the butterflies. Some even use a bird suet feeder to hold the overripe fruit that you may get from a hanging tree branch.

You can also use a plant saucer or even a flat bird feeder attached to a plant hanger to present the food up to them.

You can even get ultra simple and just put the fruit down on an old dish on the railing of your deck or a table that is on your patio. Just make sure to lightly smash or cut up the fruit for easier consumption if you go this route.

Of course, putting rotten fruit out on a plate or platter may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option to go with. If you are looking for something that is a bit nicer or fancier for your garden, you can go with a flat bird feeder or even a decorated bird bath for a truly enhanced aesthetic.

It is important that you place the fruit in the sunshine. Remember, butterflies love sunny areas. While they may frequent a shady area to get to the rotted fruit, you stand a better chance by putting it out into the sun.

Just keep in mind that butterflies aren’t the only things that will be attracted to rotten fruit. Wasps, bees, ants, and flies are all commonly attracted to those foods, so it might be a good idea to seal them up in an outdoor container at night.

This is especially true since possums, raccoons, and other nocturnal creatures may show up to check out the food source.

A feeder is a great idea to keep other critters, primarily ants, away from the food source. Butterflies don’t care about other visitors, but you probably will.

Finally, be aware of the film that can develop on overripe fruit. It should still be moist beneath that film, but you may need to break that film off first. You can also add a little bit of water or fruit juice onto the plate to ensure that it stays nice and moist.

Don’t go crazy and make it swim; just enough to keep it attractive to the butterflies.

Butterflies Love Mud Puddles

Believe it or not, moist mud puddles are a great way to attract butterflies to the area. Males especially will congregate around the puddles to find salts and minerals that can help to increase their fertility. This is a process called puddling.

It is understandable why creating puddles in your yard may not be the optimal solution. For one, puddles are not aesthetically pleasing, so that alone can be enough of a deterrent to want to use another method.

But it doesn’t have to look like a true puddle. With some rocks and sand, you can almost create a little pond for the butterflies to congregate.

It doesn’t have to be a full-on lake of water; just enough to create a slight muddy, moist spot to attract them. You can even add a little bit of compost to make the spot extra attractive.

The biggest issue with using the mud puddle method is keeping it moist during the warmer temperatures of the summer. When you create a deeper spot, those will require a little bit of extra help to keep moist.

A good idea for creating a mud puddle is to bury a container in the hole. This way, instead of a true “mud puddle,” you create a little pond that can clean up easily. Another thing to keep in mind is that the larger diameter puddles tend to attract butterflies in larger groups.

Which method you choose depends on the amount of work that you want to put in as well as the potential aesthetic impact that it may have on your yard.

No matter what method you use, there are plenty of ways to attract those beautiful, vibrant butterflies to the area so that you can enjoy their aesthetic appeal. The right choices can even add a general appeal to your yard as a whole.


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Amy Z Anderson

Sunday 1st of May 2022

What kind of paint did you use. I don't want to use one that will harm the butterflies