7 Tips for Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard

Attract butterflies to your yard with these easy tips.

To attract butterflies to your home, you need to make them feel at home. Here are seven tips for making your yard and garden more attractive to these winged wonders.

Plant a Wide Variety of Flowers

Butterflies like flowers, especially yellow and purple varieties with simple open blooms. Old-fashioned varieties often provide more of the nectar butterflies seek than modern, more colorful hybrids.

Serve up Water in a Butterfly-Friendly Format

Butterflies will drink plain old water, but there are two simple versions that they love even more. The first method involves filling a cake pan (or other shallow pan) with sand, then saturating it with water. The butterflies will suck water out of the sand along with other minerals they crave. The second, more souped-up version, involves spreading sand in an open area of a flowerbed, then setting a mineral block—the kind cattle lick, usually available through feed dealers—in the middle. Rain, dew and normal watering will leach the minerals into the sand bed for the butterflies to enjoy.

Provide a Butterfly Maternity Ward

Females frequently lay eggs, and while some will drop them on a variety of plants, others can be quite fussy. Monarch butterflies, for example, will leave eggs only on milk-weed plants. You can find information on other good host plants at butterflywebsite.com or thebutterflyfarm.com.

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Give Them a Hangout

Butterflies like small nooks where they can hide from predators in summer and stay cozy all winter. Butterfly houses with slot openings look quaint, but research shows they’re more attracted to a natural environment like hollow logs, cracks in stone, loose bark or a stack of firewood.

Create a Spot for Sunbathing

Butterflies bask in the early morning sun until they’re warm enough to get on with the day. Your watering hole can serve double duty if positioned in the sun. Otherwise concrete paver bricks or stones nestled into a sunny area of the garden also give them a nice spot for sunbathing.

Offer Shelter From the Storm

The calmer the environment, the more attractive it is to butterflies. So locate all the previously discussed amenities in an area sheltered by a fence or building, or a clump of trees or large plants.

Play It Safe

Avoid using pesticides or harmful chemicals on plants or water sources you provide for butterflies.