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Making a Butterfly Feeder

For many species of butterflies, flower nectar is the favorite entrée on the menu. If you want to take your butterfly garden to the next level, try adding a small feeding station that offers them rotting fruit. Red Admirals, Red-Spotted Purples, Commas, and Mourning Cloaks all appreciate an occasional bite of rotting "fruit cocktail." Here are directions for an easy-to-make feeding station that will also add a bit of color and whimsy to your garden.

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Materials:

  1. one 4" terracotta flower pot (this will be the body)
  2. one 6" terracotta saucer (this will serve as the rim)
  3. tile grout rated for indoor/outdoor use, I happen to choose black.
  4. mosaic tile adhesive - make sure it dries clear
  5. embellishments - I used sea glass I picked up from walks on the beach; shells I collected on vacation; and some craft-sized tile pieces leftover from other projects. You might want to use buttons, old costume jewelry, nuts and bolts, pieces of broken dishes or mirrors, or any other odds and ends you have lying around.

Keep these handy:

Directions:

  1. Lay down some newspaper-you're about to make a mess!
  2. Turn your flowerpot over. This is your pedestal. Using the tile adhesive, make a miniature "birdbath" by gluing the saucer, right side up, onto the bottom of your flowerpot.
  3. Once the glue dries, use more adhesive to add your embellishments to the pot and/or saucer. My embellishments were a mish-mash of leftovers. I glued them on randomly without altering their size (I'm lazy!). For a more elaborate design, I would suggest sketching your pattern onto the flowerpot before you start gluing and if necessary, using tile nippers to cut and shape your pieces of tile.
  4. After your embellishments dry (I gave mine 2 good hours), it's time to apply the grout. I found it easiest to slather the grout on with my hands (use gloves!). Squirt the grout onto the flowerpot and work it in until all the spaces around your embellishments are filled in. At this stage, don't worry about covering up them up, because you'll be sponging them off later.
  5. After the grout has firmed up a bit it starts to develop a thin film. This is a good time to run a damp sponge over everything to remove any excess grout. Once it has thoroughly dried, come back over the pot with a damp sponge as many times as you need to until your embellishments show through.
  6. Butterflies like perches to sun on, especially those light in color. I glued a large shell on the rim of my feeding station to serve as a perch.

Add Fruit

There is no need to add any additional sealants. Once the grout has dried, you're ready to add fruit. Try strawberries, watermelon, mango, oranges or bananas. If you're worried about attracting rodents, use a rubber band to cover the top of your feeding station with a small screen. This will allow the butterflies to feed, while keeping other critters from running off with your fruit. If the idea of rotting fruit makes you nauseous, fill the station with wet sand and offer the butterflies a place to "puddle."

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Here's a photo of a beautiful butterfly eating an orange in a butterfly feeder.

Butterfly Eating an Orange

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Home and Garden Gardening AdviceMarch 18, 2012
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