Butterfly Bait: How-To Formula

We love butterflies! They have lifted human hearts for millennia with their fragile, colorful beauty. There are specific flowers that butterflies love, but what if you donít have the space or time to grow butterfly-attracting plants? We can make Butterfly Bait! Because not all butterflies are only attracted to flower-nectar, this magic stuff will attract butterflies to your yard, even if all you have is a balcony.

Just wait until you find out the ingredients of Butterfly Bait! Theyíre not as pretty as the butterflies, thatís for sure–but this magic goop will have White Admirals, Mourning Cloaks, Viceroys and many others flocking to your place. Hereís the formula:

Many butterflies prefer rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion, urine, and other non-nectar sources of nutrients. You can allow fruit from your fruit trees to decay on the ground, leave your petís droppings where they lie, or place a bit of raw meat or fish in a discreet part of your garden.

And here is the formula for Butterfly Bait:

1 pound sugar
1 or 2 cans stale beer
3 mashed overripe banana
1 cup of molasses or syrup
1 cup of fruit juice
1 shot of rum

Mix all ingredients well and paint on trees, fence posts, rocks, or stumps–or simply soak a sponge in the mixture and hang from a tree-limb.

Adapted from The Butterfly Garden, by Matthew Tekulsky (Harvard Common Press, 1985)

For more information about butterflies, including some fascinating facts, and a listing of plants that will attract them, see Care2ís How to Attract Butterflies.

Adapted from The Butterfly Garden, by Matthew Tekulsky (Harvard Common Press, 1985). Copyright (c) 1985 by Matthew Tekulsky. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Common Press.

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Dagmar Breg
Past Member 2 years ago

I have all sorts of rotting vegetation in my yard since I have a compost and I have fruitflies, slugs, and spiders, but no butterflies. Maybe some booze will convince them. XD

Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp3 years ago


Aleksandra K.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for the entertaining article.

Ajla C.
Past Member 3 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Great article. Thanks.

Dale Overall

Butterflies are fascinating and often very colourful. While the bait will attract some species no doubt it will also attract some of the local squirrels, raccoons attracted to the fermenting brew. This is an interesting way of doing this and there are also a lot of flowers one can plant that specific butterflies are attracted to as well.

These are insects always worth watching along with dragonflies who are also colourful and delightful.

Kelly Rogers
Kelly Rogers3 years ago


Marianne Barto
MARIA B.3 years ago

Mixture sounded strange to me. I understand the sweet stuff, but beer and rum? interesting to know. May try it...thanks

Kelly Rogers3 years ago

thanx, I am always looking for way to attract Butterflies

Jaime Marino
Jaime Marino3 years ago