Do Hummingbirds Eat Butterflies?


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Hummingbirds are known for being some of the most beautiful pollinators that this planet has to offer. However, they are not alone in this task, and there are plenty of other helpful beasts that we love to welcome in our gardens – such as butterflies, for example. But do hummingbirds eat butterflies, and can they co-exist in the same yard?

Butterflies and hummingbirds can live perfectly well together in the same garden. In fact, they are almost a perfect match! They eat much of the same food, and from time to time, you’ll certainly see butterflies fluttering around a hummingbird feeder.

Do hummingbirds ever attack butterflies?

Hummingbirds can be quite territorial. If butterflies get in their way, then they may find themselves under attack. That being said, hummingbirds can generally only nibble on smaller flying insects, and butterflies are not usually to their taste! 

In fact, hummingbirds do a great job of managing the numbers of other flying insects in your garden, leaving your butterflies to continue pollinating and adding splashes of color to the yard.

It’s very unlikely you will ever see a hummingbird attack a butterfly unless it feels extremely threatened. In fact, there’s little anecdotal evidence to say that hummingbirds actually try eating butterflies at all. There are videos (like the one below), however, that show butterflies and hummingbirds competing for the same nectar.

What insects do hummingbirds eat? 

Hummingbirds are known to hunt and feast on gnats, beetles, mosquitoes, weevils, and even ants. Their favorite insects typically fly around, as they can easily scoop them out of the air. That being said, they have also been known to eat spiders occasionally, too (providing they are small enough). Hummingbirds will happily munch on thousands of insects each day if they are rearing children.

Its unlikely hummingbirds will eat insects on the ground (for the simple reason that hummingbirds keep flying and hovering through all that they do). Otherwise, hummingbirds will happily sip at sugar water and will get all the food they need from various flowers and plants in your garden – they can look after themselves fairly well!

How can I help butterflies and hummingbirds coexist in my garden? 

Firstly, it’s a good idea to look for flowers that attract butterflies, as well as blooms that hummingbirds love. More often than not, you may find that some of them cross over – along with those that attract bees, too.

There’s a reason behind this. As you may know, butterflies and hummingbirds are both attracted to nectar. Hummingbirds normally eat between every 10 to 15 minutes. Therefore, planting a wide variety of blooms is always a good idea – and what’s more, the more varieties you host in your yard, the less likely it will be for both species to cross paths too often.

You might also consider feeding your hummingbirds sugar – butterflies like sugar water, too – meaning that topping up a hummingbird feeder will likely keep bringing both pollinators back to your yard. Just remember, hummingbird food will need changing regularly if you want to give them a helping hand.

Otherwise, there may not be much for you to do, or even worry about. As it stands, hummingbirds and butterflies coexist just fine. Interfering too much could ward some creatures away – both species are fairly timid when it comes to animals bigger than each other.

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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