DIY butterfly feeder and other ways to attract butterflies

DIY butterfly feeder

DIY butterfly feeder has been my biggest joy this summer as I have been testing ways to attract butterflies into my garden. In Finnish, this kind of butterfly feeder is called perhosbaari, a butterfly bar, which I find to be an awesome name for it. I feel like a bartender, serving wine for my customers.

I have learned that butterflies like different things. Some are attracted to my butterfly feeding jar, while some prefer to hang out in some flowers in the garden. I got so into this butterfly bar business that I think I will expand my bar next summer with more jars and more flowers that butterflies love.

DIY butterfly feeder

This is what you need:

  • A glass jar
  • Red wine
  • Brown sugar
  • Yeast
  • A clean sponge

I took an old candle jar because it had a handle already attached to it. I was planning to make a knotted hanging jar or macrame jar, but this turned out to be the perfect size for my DIY butterfly feeder. The only wine I had was Vappu Organic Red. They say that you should use cheap wine for this, but firstly, there is no such thing in Finland, and secondly, I want to serve the best for my customers, so why not decent organic Syrah, and Tempranillo.

I mixed a lot of brown sugar and a tiny drop of yeast together with the wine. In case you are wondering about the ratios, my feeding jar took maybe 1/4 liter of wine, one hundred grams of brown sugar, and a few grams of yeast. I added a sponge into the jar because it makes it easier for butterflies to drink the nectar. At least nobody drowns in the jar.

Red admiral in the butterfly feeding jar

Which butterflies does the butterfly feeder attract?

My first and the most enthusiastic customers were red admirals. I hadn’t seen one before I opened my butterfly bar, and suddenly they appeared. The red admirals were soon accompanied by mourning cloaks.

The red admiral is a migrant in Finland, meaning that it travels far from its birthplace. Such butterflies arrive in Finland from more southern countries. I love having tourists in my butterfly bar.

Red admiral

Mourning cloaks, also known as Camberwell beauties, are also large and dashing butterflies that I enjoy having in my butterfly feeder. I find them a bit shyer and more restless than the red admirals, thus harder to photograph.

Mourning cloak

How to attract butterflies to your garden

There are some plants and flowers that butterflies seem to love. Mint took over my herb garden this summer, but luckily for me, mint flower is the preferred plant for small tortoiseshells, fritillaries, and peacock butterflies. There are always some of them in the garden.

Fritillary and small tortoiseshell on mint

I’m still experimenting on what works best on attracting butterflies to my garden, but a few things on my list in addition to DIY butterfly feeder are:

  • Don’t cut grass short everywhere, leave untidy grass with weeds like stinging nettle in some areas if possible
  • Plant herbs and flowers that butterflies love; pink, purple, mauve, or blue colors best attract butterflies because these colored flowers are those that produce the most nectar
  • Avoid pesticides, also note that products like Thermacell kill all insects and pollinators, not only mosquitos
  • Leave overripe fruits in the garden
  • Provide fresh water in a shallow dish with pebbles

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