Once you have a butterfly garden in place an important feature to add is a water source. You can entice more butterflies to visit your garden by adding a butterfly water dish or puddling station.
Butterfly puddling station constructed from a terra cotta saucer with gravel and a couple of rocks on which the butterflies can land to sip mineralized water.
Many species of butterflies congregate on wet sand and mud to partake in “puddling”, drinking water, and extracting minerals from damp puddles. In many species, this “mud-puddling” behavior is restricted to the males, and studies have suggested that the nutrients collected may be provided as a nuptial gift during mating. Click here to read more about this behavior.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) sipping moisture from wet sand.
In the heat of the day, water can help a butterfly cool off. According to Southwest Monarch Study, Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterflies are usually not known for puddling but, during periods of drought, low humidity, and high temperatures, Monarchs are frequently found by creeks and streams seeking moisture.
It’s easy to create a watering station or wet area in your garden for butterflies and need not take much time or money. To get started, you will need a large, shallow dish or container. Use a container at least 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) wide. I used an extra bird bath that was lying around and placed it right in the middle of my garden.
Front and top views of a ceramic bird bath converted into a butterfly puddling station. Click Here to view an assortment of bird baths for your garden.
Add sand or course dirt. Sand from the beach works extremely well because it already contains salts and other nutrients. You can also mix some manure or compost in with the sand. Add a few pebbles and rocks that can be used for the butterflies to rest upon. Click Here to see a selection of decorative pebbles. Keep your sand just slightly moist and do not overfill. Butterflies cannot land on open water.
Watch Walter Reeves of the University of Georgia Extension Service build a butterfly puddle and fruit-feeding station in this demonstration video.
Enjoy making your butterfly puddle. As always with butterfly gardening, if you plant it or if you build it, they will come.
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Posted on24 May 2016|Comments Off on Butterflies and Fruit
Adding a fruit feeder to your butterfly garden can help attract butterflies. Many butterflies do not live on flower nectar alone. Some species prefer, even require, overripe fruit to feed on. Butterflies are particularly fond of sliced, rotting oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, apples, and bananas.
A couple of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies enjoy sips of sweet fruit juice on a summer afternoon. • Click here or on photo to view a variety of suet baskets.
By placing sliced oranges and watermelon inside a suet bird feeder you can make this simple butterfly feeder.
A Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) butterfly sipping juice from a cantaloupe.
This easily-assembled butterfly feeder is a clay saucer with sliced cantaloupe that was positioned on top of a hanging plant basket. It was hung in a Plum Tree (Prunus spp.), which happens to be a host plant for the Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) seen feeding here.
A mass of Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis) butterflies marauding a rotting banana still in its peel. • Copyright by Jill Streit-Murphy. Used with permission.
My friend, Jill Streit-Murphy, hangs out a rotten banana in her garden. There are so many butterflies you can’t even see the fruit!
Half an orange on a deck railing attracted this Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) butterfly.
While in Costa Rica last summer, I set out some fruit in a birdbath and attracted amazingly beautiful butterflies.
An ant guard is an essential equipment when using a butterfly feeder. Click here or on photo to view a variety of ant guards.
Keep ants at bay by hanging your butterfly feeder with an ant guard. Whether you use the kind shown here with a small bit of pesticide tucked inside where it doesn’t come in contact with the butterflies or the type that you keep filled with water and a few drops of cooking oil, ant guards are essential equipment when using butterfly feeders.
A hanging birdbath makes a perfect place to place fruit to attract butterflies. Click here for a variety of birdbaths: https://amzn.to/3ccrgEN