Can I attract butterflies without gardening?
The following anecdotes from forum members describe how to attract butterflies without using plants or gardening techniques.
I scatter salt pellets (for my water softener) in my gravel driveway and hose down the area to provide a moist "salt lick" for the butterflies. Many butterflies visit for minerals and/or water. In addition, consider the "brew" of rotting fruit, molasses, gatorade, and brown sugar. IT ATTRACTS BUTTERFLIES THAT DON'T SPEND MUCH,IF ANY, TIME NECTARING. (mcronin)
I've got a small hanging bird feeder that I use for a butterfly feeder. I just take a rotten banana or pear and mush it up and pour some watermelon Gatorade on it and they love it. (Konkreteblond)
I use 4-6 rotting bananas, about 8 ounces of molasses, one package of brown sugar, 3-4 scoops of powdered gatorade mix, and 1-2 cans of cheap beer. I mix it up thoroughly in a covered pail, let it ferment for a few days, and then put it out on my screened feeder plates. (mcronin)
I just use one banana, kind of mush it a little, poke a few holes in it and then pour a little Gatorade on it. I don't have it sitting in a bowl of liquid, just enough Gatorade to moisten it all up. Someday I'll have more butterflies to feed, but I think with more than that now all I'd get would be wasps. (Konkreteblond)
I recently read in Southern Living about a lady who has a beautiful butterfly garden and one thing she does is to take a small dish, put in some mushroom compost and keep it damp with water. I'm not sure what they like about mushroom compost but it seems to work for her. (kaymidga)
I provide my Painted Ladies with freshly-squeezed Navel Orange juice as well as slices of oranges. I make cuts across the oranges so that more juice is available to them. Just remember, if you set out oranges, to go out at LEAST once a day with a knife (or if you have fingernails) and run the blade across the orange to "open up" the pulp so that the butterflies can get to the juice. The heat tends to seal up the top and the poor dears' proboscis can't get much out. I know others who will put out freshly-cut wedges of watermelon, too. Some butterflies also like dung and urine! Go figure--Some of them need the minerals and salts in order to produce the chemicals for mating purposes. (tdogmom)
(quoting the Audubon Society Field Guide) "Hackberry butterflies share a strong fondness for the juices of rotting fruit, and can be lured out of their trees to overripe figs, pears, peaches and persimmons." I had a Hackberry butterfly on my birdbath last year. (Capella_IN)
While visiting the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, I too was surprised to see many plates of fruit out. Oranges, bananas, papayas and mangos too! Not only did the butterflies enjoy it but so did the finches. (PamCrews)
I use bananas too. I smush them up a little, poke a few holes, and pour in a little watermelon Gatorade. They hackberry's love it. I have a lot of that same butterfly. (Konkreteblond)