Butterfly Feeders are not necessary for butterflies but they are necessary for some butterfly gardeners! Putting a butterfly feeder in your garden brings the butterflies down to viewing level, letting you know which butterflies are visiting your garden without chasing around to find them.
The best place to put your feeder is near a spot that is easily seen, be that out near a nectar filled flower border or in front of your window. When starting with a butterfly feeder, a location close to your house might be best place to start so that you can monitor it. Feeders also often need to be brought in at night to avoid non-butterfly feeding (think raccoon, opossum, bear…), which is yet another reason to place the feeder in a location where it will not be forgotten.
Different locations use different butterfly bait so some experimentation is necessary. Some NABA members have shared details of the bait that works for them in their locations. The following report and photo are from Lenora Larson in Eastern Kansas in her NABA Certified Butterfly Garden #77:
“Here’s my fruit feeder with a Viceroy and a Goatweed Leafwing. I use both oranges and “Mung”—the fermented banana, beer & molasses mix. I have to bring it in every night because of Rocky Raccoon. It’s a ceramic pie plate (easy to clean) set on a 3 foot pedestal with paths on both sides because photography is my goal in attracting these beauties.”
The photo sent by Lenora is from September 2013 but Lenora already has the feeder out this spring in anticipation of butterfly activity on sunny spring days. She reports already seeing Mourning Cloaks, Eastern Commas, Goatweed Leafwings, Red Admirals, Spring Azures, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, and the ubiquitous Cabbage White out in the garden.
Do you use a butterfly feeder? What is your location and what have you found is the best butterfly bait?