How to Make a Homemade Butterfly Feeder


Besides bringing a magical beauty to any garden, butterflies help promote growth by pollinating flowers. You can attract more butterflies to your yard with these DIY butterfly feeders – one made with a plate and one made with a jar – that also serve as attractive garden ornaments. Mother Nature would definitely approve. These butterflies definitely approve. Watch this!

Also: Don't forget those beautiful hummingbirds! Here's how to build a feeder that will bring all the hummingbirds to your yard.

Butterfly feeders
(Jonathan Fong)

Things You'll Need

  • For the plate butterfly feeder:
  • Acrylic plate
  • 10"-14" wire plate holder
  • String
  • 1/2" metal washer
  • Sponge
  • Silk flowers and leaves
  • Hot glue
  • Glass beads
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Wire
  • For the jar butterfly feeder:
  • Glass jar
  • Nail and hammer
  • Silk flowers
Step 1

Attach a wire plate holder to the back of an acrylic plate. You can find plate holders at hardware stores, arts and crafts stores, and home decor stores. Cut four pieces of string about 24" long and tie the ends to the prongs gripping the edge of the plate. These four strings will suspend the butterfly feeder on the tree.

Wire plate holder and string
Jonathan Fong
Step 2

At random points along the four strings, thread some glass beads and secure them with knots on either side. These beads will help catch the light to attract the butterflies.

Glass beads on the string
Jonathan Fong
Step 3

Take the four strings and tie them together around a 1/2" metal washer. This washer will be used later for hanging the feeder on a tree.

Tie the strings to a washer
Jonathan Fong
Step 4

Using a hot glue gun, attach brightly colored silk flowers to the strings at various points.

Glue flowers to the strings
Jonathan Fong
Step 5

Make your own butterfly food by mixing 10 parts water with one part sugar. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, and allow to cool.

Make your own butterfly food
Jonathan Fong
Step 6

In the center of the plate, place a sponge on some silk leaves. Spoon some of the sugar water mixture onto the sponge until it is saturated, but not overflowing. Then hang the butterfly feeder from a tree branch using wire connected to the washer. Check the feeder regularly to make sure there is plenty of sugar water in the sponge.

Spoon the sugar water onto the sponge
Jonathan Fong
Step 1

Thoroughly wash and dry a glass jar and lid, removing the paper label. Using a hammer and nail, puncture a hole in the center of the lid.

Punch a hole in the lid
Jonathan Fong
Step 2

Cut about a quarter inch from one end of a half-inch thick sponge, and cut that piece in half lengthwise so it is about a quarter inch on all sides. Then trim this piece so the sponge is about one inch long.

Cut a small piece of sponge
Jonathan Fong
Step 3

Insert the one-inch piece of sponge into the hole in the lid so there is a half-inch of sponge on either side. To help squeeze the sponge in the hole, use the nail to push a little bit of the sponge through, and then pull it from the other side. The sponge should be very snug in the hole.

Squeeze the sponge through the hole
Jonathan Fong
Step 4

Turn the glass jar upside down. Cut two pieces of string that are 48" long. Wrap each string around the base of the jar and tie a double knot. The two knots should be opposite each across. You will now have four ends of string extending from the jar. They are labeled here 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B.

Tie two strings around jar
Jonathan Fong
Step 5

Take strings 1B and 2B and tie a double knot about half way up the inverted jar. Do the same with strings 1A and 2A. Try to get the two knots at an even height, on opposite sides of the jar.

Connect strings halfway up
Jonathan Fong
Step 6

Then take strings 2A and 2B and tie a double knot at the top of the inverted jar. Do the same with strings 1A and 1B. You have now formed a macrame-style structure to hold the jar securely.

Connect strings at the top
Jonathan Fong
Step 7

Thread some glass beads on the string to catch light in the garden. Tie the four strings together to a half-inch metal washer. You will use this washer to hang the feeder to a tree branch.

Tie string to a washer
Jonathan Fong
Step 8

Hot glue some silk flowers to the top of the inverted jar to help attract butterflies. Glue additional flowers at other points on the jar, or along the strings. Fill the jar with the sugar water butterfly food, and seal the lid tightly. When you invert the jar, the sugar water will saturate the end of the sponge sticking through the lid. Then hang the feeder on a tree branch, using wire threaded through the washer.

Hot glue flowers to the jar
Jonathan Fong

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have problems with ants, apply some petroleum jelly to the rim of the plate or jar to create a barrier they will avoid.
  • If you have trouble with wasps, add slices of cucumber to the plate or on top of the jar. Cucumbers are a natural wasp repellant, and can even work with ants.
  • Be careful not to add too much sugar to the butterfly food mixture. A higher concentration of sugar can dehydrate the butterflies.
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