Have you ever seen a butterfly eat something? I think most of us would say “no” but what if I told you that you have almost certainly seen a butterfly eat you just didn´t realize it. So what do butterflies actually eat?
As a whole, butterflies have straw-like mouths that they use to eat the nectar of flowers which is often kept very far inside the flower itself. The butterfly will land on a flower and then use its long mouth to suck the nectar from the flower.
So every time you see a butterfly sitting on a flower for a longer period of time then you can be almost sure that it is eating the nectar of that flower.
But why is the flower producing nectar that it doesn´t actually need for anything?
Well, it´s because the flower can´t move but it still needs to be pollinated and it wants to pollinate other flowers in order to reproduce.
And when the butterfly is eating the nectar it has to come so close to the flower that the pollen of the flower gets stuck on the butterfly. When the butterfly is then flying to another flower it leaves some of the pollen from the last flower on that flower effectively pollinating it.
Bees and bumblebees do the same thing.
How to Feed a Butterfly
If you want to feed the butterflies in your garden then you can easily create faux nectar to feed them with.
To feed butterflies simply mix some water with honey until the mixture is liquid. Then fill the faux nectar in a small glass or something similar and just put it outside where the butterflies are.
It won´t take long and the butterflies will drink your fake nectar and you can observe how they use their straw-like mouth to reach inside the glass to get to the nectar.
Butterflies can curl their straw-like mouths up when they fly and uncurl them when they want to eat.
You can see that process if you look closely.
You can also use a very soft sponge and soak it with the nectar to feed butterflies. They will land on the sponge and suck the nectar out of it.
If you use a sponge with a bright color like red, or yellow, then you can even attract butterflies from farther away.
If you have fruit like mango, a strawberry, or an apple lying around that has started to rot or is very ripe then you can cut that up into small pieces, poke some additional holes in the fruit, and present it to the butterflies on a shallow dish.
Butterflies love to eat very ripe and even slightly rotten fruit. But butterflies can´t bite so they can only eat fruit that is very juicy.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂