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There is no sight more enchanting than a meadow filled with wildflowers and drifting butterflies. Many gardeners want to know how they can draw more of these beautiful, delicate pollinators to their yard. But aside from planting flowers, what can you do to attract more butterflies to your wild yard? Will fruit attract them? Do butterflies like bananas, for example?
Butterflies love bananas. This rich, sugary fruit contains all the energy and vitamins that a butterfly could need. Leaving overripe fruit out is one of the best ways to offer visiting butterflies a boost and bring them flocking.
What and how do butterflies eat?
As you probably know, butterflies primarily feed on nectar, the sugary liquid produced by flowers to entice pollinators, but that’s not all they eat! Butterflies also eat tree sap and rotten fruit, and will even sip on decaying meat.
You might have seen butterflies gathered around puddles; these are males drinking dissolved minerals from the water, a behavior called mud-puddling. Butterflies are also quite attracted to salt; if you’ve ever had a butterfly land on your hand, it was probably trying to take a sip of your salty sweat.
The key thing to remember is that butterflies can only eat liquids. They feed through their proboscis; a long, hollow tube that extends from their mouths. It’s great for digging food out from little nooks and crannies, like the center of flowers, but it can’t suck up anything solid. So anything you want to feed butterflies has to be in liquid form.
What kind of fruit do butterflies like?
Given this, you can probably guess what kind of fruit butterflies might like. They need a lot of nutrients in liquid form, use up a lot of energy flying and traveling, and love anything sweet. So the ideal fruit for butterflies is very sugary, has soft flesh, and is dripping with juice.
If you’ve ever been to a butterfly house at a zoo or botanical garden, you’ve probably seen orange segments laid out for the butterflies. This kind of juicy, sweet, nutrient-rich fruit is just the kind of fruit that butterflies love.
How do you feed bananas to butterflies?
Knowing this now, it probably sounds like butterflies shouldn’t be attracted to bananas. While they are nutritious and extremely sweet, bananas probably have the least juice of any fruit you can imagine. But there is a way for you to make bananas accessible for butterflies, and they will thank you for it!
No doubt you’ve noticed that all fruit gets soft and drippy as it gets overripe. They also start to smell very sweet. This is because, as the fruit ripens, the starches in the flesh begin to break down into simple sugars, which is why overripe fruit is almost sickeningly sweet.
It’s one of the reasons overripe bananas are best for making banana bread. Well, here’s another use for those brown, soft bananas, because it also means they’re very attractive to butterflies.
You’ll want to mash the banana up while still in its peel. Squeeze and crush it between your hands until it feels very soft and pliable. This will make it soft and liquid enough for butterflies to suck up the sweet pulp.
Next, you’ll want to pierce or slit the peel, since butterflies are incapable of cutting through the tough skin on their own.
Last of all, lay the bananas out in a sunny spot in your garden, preferably on a small, clean, elevated tray. As the fruit heats up in the sunshine, the sweet smell will become stronger and alert local butterflies that some kind soul has left a snack out for them!
If you’re concerned about ants, you can lay the bananas in a shallow dish of water. Ants can’t swim, so they won’t be able to find the fruit and will soon wander away, but the butterflies will fly to the bounty with no trouble.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, why not try this recipe for butterfly nectar? It uses a pound of sugar, a can of stale beer, a cup of molasses, three mashed overripe bananas, a cup of juice, and a shot of rum. Now that will be a party in your garden!
What kind of fruit attracts butterflies?
So long as a fruit is sweet and can be reduced to a liquid, butterflies will eat them. The best fruits for butterflies are either very juicy or very overripe. So, other than overripe bananas, what fruits can you use to lure butterflies to your garden?
Watermelons aren’t just treats for hummingbirds. With their high water and sugar content, watermelons are just the thing to attract butterflies. The best part is that you can eat most of the fruit yourself and just put the rinds out for the butterflies. Butterflies will get plenty of enjoyment just out of the juice from the last bits of flesh on the rind.
Butterflies love oranges and lemons because they are full of rich juices and vitamins, and butterflies love them for the same reasons we do. You can spike orange and lemon slices out on skewers and set them out in the garden, or just halve the fruits and put them out on trays. Butterflies will flock to drink the sugary juice, and they don’t seem to mind the sourness of raw lemons.
Stone fruits like peaches, plums, mangoes, and nectarines are just the right treat for butterflies as well. Sweet, juicy, and with soft, pulpy flesh. Overripe fruits in particular will be loved by any visiting butterflies. Cut the fruits in half, remove the pits, and set them out in the sunshine.
If you have berry bushes, try crushing up a few overripe raspberries, blackberries, or even strawberries for visiting butterflies. They will love the sweet pulp and juice.
Apples are far too hard for butterflies to eat when they’re ripe, but like bananas, they get better as they start to become overripe. The same reasons we dislike apples that are past their best are the same things that make them tastier for butterflies; they become mushy, soft, and overly sweet. So if you have a few apples going overripe and bruised in the fruit bowl, cut them in half and put them out in the garden.
Keep in mind with all of this that overripe fruit will often attract wasps as well. If you or anyone in your family is allergic to stings, there are ways to attract butterflies without attracting bees and wasps.
Do bananas attract butterflies?
The fruit you would otherwise have thrown away might be just the thing to bring more butterflies to your garden. Apples, peaches, plums, and oranges will all be welcomed, but bananas are also a wonderful choice. Banana bread isn’t the only thing those old brown bananas are good for! Mush them up, slit the skins, and see how the butterflies come calling.