Setting up the butterfly bar


Flowers are not the only option for attracting butterflies to your garden. Another trick is setting up a butterfly bar. Here’s a recipe and some tips on how to get started.

  • Cheap red wine
  • Brown sugar

You’ll also need a jar (e.g. a yoghurt glass), some string and a sponge. Depending on your imagination, you’ll perhaps need some other stuff as well.

Butterfly bar in garden to attract butterflies

Butterfly bar in garden to attract butterflies

Start by creating the mixture. Take some of the red wine and add brown sugar as much as the wine can take. You may heat up the wine in a microwave oven or on a plate so the sugar dissolves easier. Note: Make sure the alcohol does not evaporate since it’s a feast for butterflies providing them with lots of energy.

Feel free to add syrup or honey to the mixture (I got my results with plain brown sugar though). Adding vinegar will help you to get rid of flies if you’re annoyed by them visiting your bar.

Cut the sponge into small stripes (see photo). Place the stripes in the jar filled with the mixture. Use the string to place the jar hanging on a hook or e.g. branch on a tree in your garden. Personally, I’m using a spoon once daily to fresh-up the mixture and make sure the sponge stripes are properly soaked in the mixture.

Make sure to place the jar on a hot sunny spot in your garden (or why not balcony). Add some red wine every couple days to make sure the jar is full until its limit. That’s all. Have fun waiting for visitors.


It took a moment to attract the first individuals. But once the word spreads (or probably more the odour), we ended up having some buzz during our happy hour (see photos).

I wasn’t aware there’s this many Commas (Polygonia c-album) around. And getting a Scarce Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas) directly into our garden was a nice surprise, as well. Let’s see who’ll step by next.

2 thoughts on “Setting up the butterfly bar

  1. The butterflies have to walk in the sticky stuff so doesn’t that do harm getting their feet SO sticky? I set up a banana table every summer (SE England) with narrow slits cut into the over-ripe bananas so the butterflies don’t need to walk in the sweet juice. My record count was in Sep 1991 when over 80 Red Admirals had accumulated together in the garden when I also had bananas in hanging baskets hung in the trees. I have a photo showing well over 40 Red Admirals on the banana table all at the same time – a magnificent sight! Also several Commas, Speckled Woods, even a Peacock, hornets, various wasps, and at night many moth species including up to 3 Red Underwings and 4 or 5 Old Ladys some nights in August / September!

    • Wow, that’s a LOT of Red Admirals (and other butterflies) that you had on your feeding setup. I’ve heard about e.g. rotten fruit, I’ll definitely need to test that too this summer. So far I haven’t found the time to follow what’s going on at the butterfly bar during night time. Due to our small kids I’ve also tried to get some sleep when they’re in bed 😉 But all that is on my ToDo list.

      Regarding the sticky stuff the butterflies feed on. I’ve not had any problems that they’d get stuck. It’s probably important to use wine or beer to get the mixture fluid, and not just sugar or honey which is the really sticky stuff.

      I hope you’ve been lucky already this spring and have spotted some flying specimen. It’s soon mid of April, and I haven’t seen a single one yet. All the really warm spring days were weekdays, and I was stuck at the office.

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