10 Simple Ways To Make Butterflies Feel More At Home In Your Backyard

Jun 06, 2018 by apost team

There's nothing that signals spring is here more than seeing the first butterflies of the season. What is even more exciting is to see the butterflies each day floating around in your own garden. The problem is that they seem to be a fleeting guest to this space unless you can find ways to entice them to your garden every day: 

1. Sugar-Based Foods and Eucalyptus 

You can start with implementing any kind of sugary foods into your garden such as watered-down honey or diluted syrups in the summer months only to avoid crystallization which could damage them. Adding a bit of soy sauce to the foods will give butterflies a bit of minerals and salt in their diet. Then, plant their favorite tree, the eucalyptus and watch them flock to your garden area! 


2. Produce Tiny Puddles 

Butterflies are actually sun-worshippers and they love to nest in a sunny spot and cool off at the same time in a small drop of water, so use a few small plates, fill them with a thin layer of sand and create a shallow spot for a puddle or two of water for the butterflies to cool in as well as drink as they enjoy the sun. They will also appreciate the nutrients in the dirty water, so don’t rinse them out. 

3. Brightly-Colored Flowers 

Color vision is an important element of a butterfly’s sight and their sensitivity to UV rays help them to search for food. They are exceptionally sensitive to red, purple, green, and blue and are attracted to the nectar within flowers that are made up of these colors. If the flowers also have a flat surface on top, then it is even better for a butterfly to sit on and enjoy the nectar. 

4. Avoid Chemical Treatments 

It doesn’t matter if you are proactive in using organic pesticides, don’t use any type of chemicals in your garden if you want butterflies there. They deter butterflies from approaching the area because they are pollinators that look for certain organisms to feed on which will be killed by chemical treatments on the plants. Research what you can use and what you definitely should not. 

5. The More Sunlight, the Better 

As a cold-blooded creature, butterflies need heat to warm up their systems, so they are extremely dependent on sunlight which they will readily absorb maintain their temperature through their wings that act like solar panels. 

6. Pick Your Milkweed Wisely 

If you want butterflies to actually nest and leave their larvae behind each year, then planting milkweed will usually do the trick. Monarch larvae feast on milkweed, so this will give you a chance to watch the transition of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly each season. It also contributes to multiplying the number of butterflies in the environment since milkweed has become a scarce commodity due to the use of so many pesticides. 

7. Create a Safe and Welcoming Space 

Butterflies are skittish when it comes to any environment they are unfamiliar with, so you must make your garden inviting right from the start or they will probably not return. This means being very aware of any predators that might scare them away including snakes, a variety of birds, dragonflies, reptiles of any kind, and pets such as dogs and cats that pose a real threat to them. 

8. Plant Native Foliage 

Don’t get too experimental when it comes to setting up a garden to attract butterflies. Many non-native plants will not thrive in a foreign environment and will die easily. This will not attract butterflies. Stick with local fauna and flora that you are most certain will flourish year after year because the healthier your garden is, the more likely it will attract butterflies to nest and hang out. 

9. Yellow is NOT Mellow 

Even though butterflies are attracted to bright colors like yellow, this is a color in nature that also attracts other pesky insects that will inhibit butterflies from entering your garden area. These include bees and wasps that will pollinate the area on a regular basis if your flowers are mostly yellow. You can actually still have some yellow flowers if you rub a bit of castor oil on the petals and any bird feeders as well which will deter these other insects from pollinating. 

10. Plant What Butterflies Prefer 

There are actual preferred flower species that butterflies are attracted to more than others that you could consider planting. These include: 

  • Alyssum 
  • Butterfly bush 
  • Cosmos 
  • Delphinium 
  • Fennel 
  • Goldenrod 
  • Lavender 
  • Marigold 
  • Nasturtium 
  • Oregano 
  • Queen Anne's lace 
  • Sage 
  • Shasta daisy 
  • Verbena 
  • Zinnia 

You can see a more complete list on The National Wildlife Federation website.  

Once you have set up your garden with all or any of these suggested ways to entice butterflies to your garden, consider describing your experience and results to others and letting them comment on what works best for them.