Spring’s flowers will be blooming soon, and with the blooms come the butterflies. These beautiful little bugs come in nearly every color, and few things are more calming than watching them flutter lazily along under the summer sun. Butterflies are also an excellent way to teach your kids about nature; the butterfly’s life cycle and migration are fascinating to young and old minds alike. But you don’t have to just sit on your deck and hope a few butterflies happen to stop by–read on to find out about 4 ways to roll out the welcome mat for nature’s painted ladies, and fill your garden with a fluttering rainbow this year.
Building your own DIY plate-style butterfly feeder is the easiest way to attract butterflies to your garden. To make the simple plate feeder we found on HomeScienceTools.com, all you need are a plastic plate or the lid from a 1-gallon bucket of ice cream, some string, a little orange juice, and some overripe fruit. First, punch a few small holes around the edge of the plate, and thread the string through the holes to fashion a hanger for the feeder. Hang the feeder from a tree branch, slice the fruit, and place the fruit on the plate. Pour a little orange juice over the fruit to keep it moist, and watch the show! The feeder will attract other insects too, such as bees, so don’t hang it too close to where people will be sitting.
A jar-style butterfly feeder hangs upside down and looks a bit like a tiny hummingbird feeder. To make one you will need a small jar, such as a baby food jar; a hammer and a nail; a kitchen sponge and some string.
First: Use the hammer and nail to carefully punch a small home in the lid of the jar. Then cut a strip of sponge that is big enough around to fit snugly in the hole. You want a tight fit, so that the liquid butterfly food will not drip out around the sponge. Put the strip into the hole in the lid, leaving about 1/2 inch sticking out of the top.
To make a hanger for the feeder: Tie a loop of string around the mouth of the jar. Cut 2 lengths of string, each about 30 inches long. Tie one end of the first 30-inch string around the loop of string that is already fastened around the mouth of the jar. Tie the other end of the string to the opposite side of the mouth of the jar, to form a loop of string. Do the same thing with the second 30-inch piece of string, so that you have 2 loops of string fastened to the mouth of the jar perpendicular to each other. Use a small piece of string to tie the tops of the loops together.
To make butterfly food: Add 1 part sugar to 9 parts water. Boil the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved, and let it cool to room temperature. You can add a little food coloring if you like, for decoration.
To finish: Fill the feeder with the butterfly food, close the lid tightly, and hang the feeder from a tree branch. Your colorful little friends will love the treat!
The Power of Plants
Don’t forget that flowers are nature’s own butterfly feeders. Butterflies like brightly-colored flowers such as purple coneflowers, dill flowers, and butterfly bushes. Planting perennials in a variety of colors will help attract more species of butterflies, and choosing flowers with different bloom times will keep butterflies visiting your garden all season long.
While adult butterflies feed on flowers, their caterpillars sometimes thrive on different plants. Making your garden welcome to butterflies in all of their life stages will mean more butterflies to admire, and will also help you teach your children about butterflies’ life cycle.
A butterfly house provides a warm, snug place for butterflies to spend the winter, and more butterflies wintering in your garden means more butterflies visiting your garden during the warmer months. A butterfly house consists of a small, narrow wooden box with a hinged back and slits for the butterflies to enter and exit.
If you’re the DIY type, you can use these handy step-by-step instructions we found on Purdue University Extension’s website to build your own butterfly house. To go the easier route, you can buy a commercially-made butterfly house kit like this one.
Where you hang your butterfly house is just as important as how you make it. Butterflies prefer quiet, sheltered spots for their winter homes, so hang your butterfly house in a shaded, wooded area that is out of the wind and sun. Placing the box near weeds and painting it bright purple or yellow will also attract butterflies. Put some twigs and leaves inside the box to keep the butterflies warm.
Enjoy Your Garden!
Use Wet & Forget Outdoor to keep your deck, outdoor furniture cushions, garden path, and other outdoor surfaces free of ugly mold and mildew, lichen, moss and algae. Wet & Forget Outdoor will help you keep your outdoor living areas beautiful and ready for butterfly gazing, and its easy “spray and walk away” application will give you more time to sip iced tea and watch the butterflies. You deserve it!
(Photo By gunthercox)