Butterfly Feeders

"Live and learn,” is an old saying. People usually say it when someone tells them about something completely new. I heard about something new when Mark, one of our cleaners, told me about a butterfly feeder made from paper and golf tees. The feeder has a design on it made with magic markers that show up under black light. I had heard about feeding wild birds, but never butterflies. I looked around the Internet to see what I could find out.

The idea is that putting food out helps bring butterflies close so that you can see more of them. It is a lot like feeding birds. They can find enough food on their own, but it is fun seeing different kinds, right in your own yard.

The North American Butterfly Association website has descriptions of two families who designed their own butterfly feeders.

Home Science Tools tells how to make a butterfly feeder from a jar and how to stock it with sugar water nectar.

I did find the feeder that Mark told me about. Directions for making it are available as a PDF from the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in England. It tells how to make a flower-shaped feeder to put right on the ground. The feeder uses golf tees as little saucers for sugar water nectar. The UV marker is used to draw patterns on the paper flower to point to where the golf tees have the sugar water. We can only see the patterns under black light, but many insects can see ultraviolet or UV light. These insects look at the UV patterns on flowers to find where there is nectar to eat. You might be able to find UV markers at party supply or art supply stores.

Are you getting excited about finding and learning about butterflies? Visit ESP’s Butterfly Watching page for more ideas. And our Butterfly unit page has some useful information and links too.
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