Make a DIY Butterfly Feeder in 6 Easy Steps

Don't underestimate the butterfly - it's more than just a pretty garden addition! There are 561 known butterfly species in the United States and Canada, all of which pollinate your flowers. Encourage butterflies to visit your yard and pollinate your plants by making a butterfly feeder. It's easy!
Full tutorial:
Note: Some evidence suggests dyes may have negative health effects on humming birds. If you have humming birds in your region, we suggest making this sugar solon without dyes and making your jar extra colorful, instead!
You'll need: mason jar or baby food jar with sealable lid, kitchen sponge, hammer and nail, heavy-duty string, sponge, sugar, scissors, saucepan and flower stickers or decorative tape (optional).
1. Prepare "butterfly food" by mixing nine parts water with one part sugar. If you are using a mason jar for your feeder, use tablespoons, and if you are using a baby food jar, use teaspoons.
2. Using a nail and hammer, punch a small hole in the center of the lid. A piece of a sponge will need to fit snuggly in the hole, so keep it small - you can always make it bigger if necessary.
3. Cut a 1/2 inch strip from your sponge, then pull it through the hole in the lid so about half of the sponge is sticking out from the top - you'll want the sponge to be a tight fit.
4. Before you tie any string around the jar, decorate your jar with brightly colored stickers, construction paper or washi tape. Flower shapes and bright colors are great options, because they'll imitate the real deal.
5. Use your string to make a hanger. Flip your jar upside down. Tie some string around the neck of the jar (slightly below the lid). Cut two more pieces of string that are about two feet long.
That's it! Now you can hang your feeder outside. It will work best if it's placed about six inches higher than your tallest flowers.

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

6 questions
  • Elaine Simmons
    on Jun 13, 2016

    I am missing something (maybe my brain) but I don't know how there are any port holes for the hummingbirds to stick their tongue in?!!

    • L W F
      on Jun 14, 2016

      I read this is for butterflies - not humming birds!

    • Lawana Baugus
      on Jun 17, 2016

      Its a butterfly feeder

    • Wendy Harrington
      on Jun 21, 2016

      Im sure the hummers would use it too.

    • Rebouchage
      on Jun 25, 2016

      I'm sure they would too. I believe they work on the priciple of anywhere there is food then we'll get som.

    • Trace Duncan Braido
      on Jun 25, 2016

      Where there's a will, there's a way! :)

    • Carolyn
      on Jun 25, 2016

      This is for Butterflies. 😊

    • Cher
      on Jun 25, 2016

      Great idea! Just an FYI, I read that it's not healthy to add die to sugar water for feeding. Besides the article said it wasn't necessary. 😉

    • Jennie Lee
      on Jun 25, 2016

      I believe both butterflies and hummingbirds would lick the sponge.

    • Nan Jolly
      on Jun 26, 2016

      The spong that sticks out of the top of the jar stays moist by absorbing the liquid, so you need to be sure the spong is always in contact with food. Butterflies or hummingbird whichever wants it.

    • Gina
      on Nov 27, 2016

      You do not need to use food coloring for the sugar solution- the butterflies can smell it. It is the same for hummingbirds as long as the feeder have some red markings . It is proven food coloring is not necessary.

  • Jennie Lee
    on Jun 25, 2016

    I should think you could easily put in a new piece of sponge every time you clean it, right?

    • Sue Kiene
      on Jun 26, 2016

      If it were me I would. Sponges are inexpensive and since they hold bacteria etc. in them, would not want the butterflies etc. to possibly get sick or die because of bacteria or molds

  • LoringLoding
    on Feb 16, 2017

    Does it drip? & is there an ant problem?

  • M. M..
    on Mar 5, 2017

    I'd have ants coming down the strings in less than 24 hours, haha! I first thought that coating the twine with Vaseline would work, but I imagine the butterflies could also perch there, and get greasy? Any ideas for ant blocking?

    • Nico Schneider
      on Apr 14, 2017

      People who're into ant terrariums use an alcohol/baby powder solution to keep them from crossing boundaries, maybe coating the string with that would help ...?
    • Tim Orr
      on May 29, 2017

      Try putting instant grits at the bottom of your pole.
    • Debbie
      on May 4, 2019

      Use a aerosol lid the kind with the little cup inside the cap. Glue it upside down on the bottom of the bowl .Drill a hole through both put a Dow rod inside the little circle . Screw a hook inside the bowl and into the Dow rod.Put what ever you want to hang it with on top . You can put water or veg oil in the outside of the circle within the cap Ants can't get to your feeders .

    • Teresa
      on May 27, 2019

      They make Ant Moats that you hang from what you are hanging the feeders of any kind from and then you hang the feeders from the moat. Put about a quarter of an inch of veggie oil in the moat. And clean it out every week!

    • Tammy Roads
      on Jul 7, 2019

      I soak a small piece of fabric strip in vinegar and tie it to the hanger. Or spray vinegar on your strings. This will keep ants away.

  • Penny
    on Mar 25, 2017

    Is the sponge to the bottom? How does it stay moist?

  • DeBorah Beatty
    on Dec 17, 2018

    What is the purpose of the sponge?

    • Tina Moore
      on May 4, 2019

      To allow the sugar solution to stay in the jar until the butterflies suck it out with their proboscis.

Join the conversation

2 of 85 comments
Your comment...