Butterfly Feeders in a NABA Certified Butterfly Garden

Goatweed Leafwing and Viceroy visiting butterfly feeder at NABA Certified Garden #77 in Eastern Kansas

Goatweed Leafwing and Viceroy visiting butterfly feeder at NABA Certified Garden #77 in Eastern Kansas

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?

Why Would You Want to Certify Your Butterfly Garden?

Butterfly Garden Certification Sign Planning and taking care of a garden is a lot of work! Don’t even get started talking about weeding, mulching, and watering, it can be such a big job. So why would a person want to take the time out of an already busy garden life to fill in a form and certify their butterfly garden?

Certifying your butterfly garden not only demonstrates your commitment to native butterflies but also lets others knows of your decision to improve habitat for both people and butterflies. Placing a certification sign in your house or garden helps to spread the word about your concern for butterflies and multiplies your efforts by encouraging other people to do something similar. The more people who replace nonnative lawns with butterfly and pollinator habitats, the better for our communities as well as butterflies. Every single butterfly garden certification helps demonstrate this fact. There is no reason why we can’t share the space humans use with all important pollinators.  By putting up a sign, you are letting others know that it is important to you and it helps to start a conversation that can result in more gardens and less lawns.

Butterfly Garden Certification Program


Outdoor weatherproof sign for NABA certified butterfly garden

Outdoor weatherproof sign for NABA certified butterfly garden


A butterfly garden supplies food and shelter for all stages of a butterfly’s life. Providing caterpillar food plants, butterfly nectar plants and about half a day’s worth of sun are the basic elements of a butterfly garden.

When you certify your butterfly garden with NABA’s Butterfly Garden Certification Program you demonstrate your commitment to promoting habitat for butterflies as well as other pollinators.

Apply for your garden to be certified!