Backyard Biology

Nature stories from my backyard and beyond

Nature Activities

Butterfly Feeders

June 3, 2011

My yard is full of weeds. Or, as I like to think if them - butterfly feeders. When the weeds are in flower, they are visited by a wide assortment of butterflies. The butterflies visit one weed after another, sipping the nectar from each flower. So I always feel bad when it is time to mow the lawn. I have just eliminated a food source until the weeds grow back - which fortunately they always do. But in the meantime, I feel as though I should provide for the butterflies. So I make some butterfly feeders. They are simple to make, look good in the garden and require the same food as I put in my my hummingbird feeder.


  • plastic wine glass
  • new scouring pad - red or orange works best but it is fun to try different colors
  • hollow rod with the inside diameter a little larger than the stem of the wine glass (an old ski pole with the ends cut off works fine)
  • sugar water


  1. Pound the hollow rod into the ground

  2. Remove the base from the plastic wine glass and insert the stem of the wine glass into the hollow rod. If the wine glass is loose, it can be taped in place.

    butterfly feeder

  3. Place a colored scouring pad in the wine glass.
  4. Fill the wine glass half full of sugar water.butterfly feeder


To make the sugar water - add 1/cup of sugar to 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until dissolved.

Note: Butterfly feeders do not just attract butterflies. They will attract anythng that would like a sugary sweet treat. My butterfly feeders also feed ants and a variety of wasps.

Another note: As well as butterflies, ants and wasps, the sugar also feeds mold. Be sure to clean each feeder every few days to prevent the mold from growing. The wine glass and scouring pad can be cleaned with a 10% bleach solution - 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Bleach the feeder for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and let completely dry - until you can no longer smell the bleach.


I got the idea or this feeder from the staff of the Butterfly Garden at the Museum of Science, Boston