A unique feeder with an artsy design that looks great in any garden. It features a wide, shallow glass bowl for fruit and nectar that can also be used for bird seed for petite birds or for water for them to bathe. Bowl design provides plenty of room for several butterflies to feed.
Like any glass item, the dish is breakable. Hanging chain is somewhat flimsy and may need a little reinforcement with a cord or string. Decorative metal butterfly has been known to fall off.
At 11" in diameter, this model can accommodate large butterflies better than many others. There’s room for fruit, and wicks are easily replaceable. The feeder hangs securely from the included hook. It’s safe in the dishwasher and has a cup to catch ants.
The wicks get moldy in wet spring weather and summer heat, and bees and wasps can easily get to the nectar.
As long as you don’t fill the reservoir with too much nectar, ants and bees won’t visit this feeder. It holds fruit and a generous 12 oz. of nectar to attract butterflies. It can be put in the dishwasher or easily cleaned by hand.
Moving the feeder can cause nectar to drizzle out. It needs to be cleaned often in wet or humid weather to avoid mold and mildew. Some owners report no success attracting butterflies.
This feeder was specially designed and tested by biologists to be effective. It can serve butterflies that like nectar and fruit, and the red top attracts hummingbirds. There are also helpful instructions for making nectar in the package.
This model attracts bees and ants, and the red top fades quickly, which can be unattractive. It can be tedious to disassemble and reassemble for cleaning.
A kid-friendly kit that includes everything youngsters need to hatch their own butterflies, including 10 caterpillars, roomy pop-up habitat, feeding kit, and instructions. Kids love watching the process, and setting hatched butterflies free. Makes a great STEM project.
Not all caterpillars will make it to maturity. Shipping in daytime temperatures less than 55°F or greater than 85°F could kill the caterpillars.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Are you always in search of new flowers to plant in your garden to attract brightly colored butterflies? Watching these beautiful insects flutter around is a highlight for most gardeners, but sometimes gardens need a little boost to attract butterflies. That's where a butterfly feeder comes in.
Similar to the way bird and hummingbird feeders are designed to attract feathered visitors, butterfly feeders are structured to accommodate butterflies and hold the nectar, fruit, and other foods that are staples of their diet. The combination of a well-made butterfly feeder and the right food is likely to bring these visitors coming back for more.
Most butterfly feeders are designed to hang from a tree or attach to a post. Standard models have ports, fruit compartment, bowl, or a combination of these to attract butterflies to feed, and many have special components to keep out bees, ants, and other unwanted critters. Choosing a butterfly feeder can be confusing, but BestReviews is here to guide you. We’ve detailed our favorite models for you to consider and put together the informative shopping guide below with tips and tricks to get you started.
Who doesn’t love to look at butterflies? The beauty of these colorful flying insects is undoubtedly the most common reason people love to attract them to their property. However, their aesthetic appeal isn’t the only reason to love having them visit your yard. Butterflies are also pollinators, which is vital to plant reproduction. Furthermore, some species of butterflies eat pests such as aphids that can be harmful to garden plants.
In addition to diets that include organic materials, tree sap, and extremely ripe or rotting fruit, most butterflies drink nectar from flowers. But many people don’t have these items lying around their property, and even if they do have flower gardens, not all butterflies are attracted to every type of bloom. Butterfly feeders are like little feeding stations where butterflies can gather and graze. Even if you don’t grow flowers, you can attract the lovely insects to your little piece of the world.
All butterfly feeders are designed to hold nectar because this sweet substance does a good job of attracting many butterfly varieties. You can purchase nectar in premixed liquid or powder form or make your own at home with sugar and water.
Many butterfly feeders also have ample space or a special compartment for fruit. Fortunately, many butterflies aren’t particularly finicky when it comes to the types of fruit they prefer, but melons, bananas, strawberries, applies, oranges, and peaches are some of their favorites. Remember that butterflies are most attracted to fruit that is overly ripe or even rotten.
As you shop for a butterfly feeder, you’ll find several styles that suit different décor, gardens, and needs.
Hanging feeders with ports: These are the most popular and affordable butterfly feeders. They’re usually made of plastic and feature designs that are very similar to hummingbird feeders, with nectar compartments and feeding ports. Many models also have small dishes for pieces of fruit for the winged insects to feed on. Also similar to hummingbird feeders, these units have built-in hooks for hanging.
Decorative feeders: Although these feeders can be a bit pricier than plastic models with ports, they’re also the most eye-catching. They come with wide, flat glass bowls to hold fruit and nectar and are situated on metal hardware in the form of hanging chains or metal stakes.
Butterfly feeding kits: This type of butterfly feeder isn’t made to put in your yard to attract the insects but instead to provide an educational experience for children. The kits include mesh habitats and food to care for caterpillars and butterflies. Some kits even come with live caterpillars or the option to purchase them once the kids have set up their butterfly habitat.
A group of butterflies is referred to as a swarm or kaleidoscope.
Each butterfly feeder is made up of several parts that are crafted to hold the units and for feeding butterflies once they arrive.
Chain, hook, and stake: Most butterfly feeders are secured by hanging or via a stake in the ground. Decorative feeders with glass bowls can be found in models with chains or stakes, while most butterfly feeders with ports are attached to a metal rod with a hook on the top for hanging. Butterfly feeders with stakes can be placed anywhere in your yard or garden where there is deep soil. If you choose a hanging model, you can place it on a tree or decorative garden or landscape pole.
Bowl: Butterfly feeders with decorative or artsy designs have a shallow bowl for holding nectar and fruit. Glass is the most popular material for these small vessels.
Ports: Some butterfly feeders have ports instead of open bowls. These small holes are located on the top portion of a butterfly feeder and are designed so butterflies can suck out the nectar below. Some feeders with ports have replaceable wicks that mimic flower parts and encourage butterflies to feed.
Nectar compartment: Hanging butterfly feeders with ports have a compartment where the nectar is stored. The compartment is covered with a top that houses ports and fruit dishs.
Fruit dishes: In addition to ports, many butterfly feeders that have a covered nectar compartment also have small, built-in dishes for placing pieces of fruit. Like ports, there are typically several fruit dishes on a feeder.
Feeding cup and dropper: These come in butterfly kits and provide ways for kids to feed caterpillars and butterflies.
It’s hard to believe that pretty butterflies enjoy indulging in rotting fruit, but they do. If luring them to your feeder with fruit that’s on the putrid side doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. Very ripe fruit will temp them, too.
The most practical, well-made butterfly feeders fall into a relatively small price range, approximately $18 to $50.
Inexpensive: The popular hanging style with ports is the most affordable, with models costing between $18 and $24. Some options in this price category have a small moat to keep out ants.
Mid-range: In the neighborhood of $24 to $34, some decorative feeders are available, as well as butterfly-feeding kits for kids.
Expensive: On the higher end of the price spectrum, between $34 and $50, are elaborate bowls made of glass designed to be held by a metal chain or a stake. Many also sport embellishments to add to their decorative appeal.
Unfortunately, the same foods that attract butterflies also attract ants. If you have an abundance of ants on your property, consider a butterfly feeder with built-in ant protection, such as a small moat or cup that prevents the ants from reaching the nectar or fruit.
In addition to the variety of models we recommend in our top five favorite butterfly feeders, there are a few other options worth mentioning. We also like the cute butterfly design of the JCs Wildlife Double Nectar DOTS Hanging Butterfly Feeder, as well as the durable poly-lumber construction. We think you’ll also appreciate how easy the nectar cups are to remove and clean. The Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit comes with a pop-up mesh habitat that kids can prepare and a voucher to have live caterpillars shipped once their future butterfly home is ready. The kit comes with a feeding dropper to further teach youngsters about butterfly care. For butterfly lovers who also like to add artsy items to their gardens, the Contintental Art Center Hanging Butterfly and Bird Feeder that features a hanging butterfly-shaped bowl is worth considering. Although it’s intended to be used as a bird feeder, it also doubles as a plate and perch for offering a variety of fruit to butterflies.
Q. How do I make homemade butterfly nectar?
A. It’s quite easy to make your own butterfly nectar at home. Simply add a cup of sugar to four cups of water in a pot. Cook the mixture until it comes to a boil, stirring it until the sugar dissolves. Once your homemade butterfly nectar has cooled to room temperature, place it in your butterfly feeder. To keep the remaining nectar fresh, store it in the refrigerator.
Q. Why can’t I just use a regular dish to feed butterflies?
A. You can, but butterflies are more likely to hover around a feeder that is designed to attract them, keep out pests, and contain the foods they like best. Most standard dishes or bowls are too deep and don’t have enough perching space for butterflies to land while they feed. Plus, if you place the dish on the ground, it can be hidden in greenery and difficult to see. Hanging feeders with ports are made with butterflies in mind. Additionally, bowl-style feeders are shallow and have splayed edges for perching. And whether feeders are made to be hung from a tree or attached to a stake, they can be placed at eye level, which makes them easy to see and enjoy.
Q. Should I put my butterfly feeder in an area that’s primarily shady or sunny?
A. Butterflies are sun-loving insects, in part because they’re cold-blooded and thrive on the sun’s warmth. For this reason, you will attract more of these winged beauties when you set up your feeder in an area that gets a lot of bright sunshine throughout the day, especially from midmorning to afternoon when they’re most active.
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