Sometimes, backyard birders end up becoming interested in providing food for not just birds but other animals as well. Sometimes, as in the case of squirrels, this is in the interest of providing them with food of their own so they stop stealing the birds’ food. But in the case of butterflies, the inclination to provide food and/or create an inviting landscape is usually born out of the same kind of desire that drives birders to put out food for birds. So below are some tips to help those who are also feeding butterflies, as well as people who might be interested in starting to feed butterflies.
Similar to a hummingbird, a butterfly’s diet is made up almost solely of nectar. A sugar-rich liquid loaded with nutrients including amino acids, enzymes, proteins and vitamins, nectar is found in many different kind of flowers. Since not all butterflies drink nectar from the same kinds of flowers, you should try to cultivate a varied landscape of flowers at which different kinds of butterflies can feed. Additionally, not all butterflies need nectar at the same time – some butterflies spend the winter as mature adults and are hungry for the sweet liquid in the early spring, while others begin the season as larvae, mature later on and need nectar at the end of the season. Examples of the early-season plants include lupines and lilacs, while examples of the late-season plants include asters and goldenrod.
While the quantity of the nectar isn’t dependent on the size of the flower, the amount of sunlight the plant gets does have a positive impact on how much nectar a flower can produce, as does the quality of the soil in which it’s planted. Finally, some species of butterfly eat fruit as well as nectar – so if some of those butterflies live near you, consider planting trees and shrubs that produce fruit such as crabapples, raspberries and blueberries.
If the idea of feeding butterflies by using the natural environment doesn’t appeal to you, you still have the ability to attract butterflies to your yard thanks to butterfly feeders. Duncraft offers a few of them, such as the aptly-named Butterfly Feeder. This easy-to-assemble, fill and clean feeder has a combination of four nectar feeding ports and four spikes that hold pieces of fresh fruit – a combination that can draw multiple butterflies in at a time. The flowery design and bright colors only add to the attraction, while the nectar reservoir is just the right size to cut down on the possibility of the nectar spoiling. This in turn will increase the food safety of the butterflies eating at the feeder and improve their health.
Follow the above advice, and you’ll have large groups of butterflies drawn to your yard to feed in no time. Shop butterfly feeders and butterfly nectar at Duncraft.com. Happy Birding!
Written by Guest Writer Sean Peick