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What Do Butterflies Eat?

by Ragini Salampure

Not many people know exactly what do butterflies eat and drink in captivity. They are unique, delicate insects who always must be regularly fed. If you’re raising them at your home and don’t know what to feed them, you’ve arrived at the right place! In this post, I will share everything you should know about the butterfly’s diet. I have put forward the complete list of their favorite foods for you. There are a lot of butterfly food sources out there. You just have to look for them! If you are interested in knowing what do butterflies eat, then you should keep on reading further.

What Do Butterflies Eat?

All the butterflies experience four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult butterfly. During each of these stages, they do eat different things. The below-mentioned list will help you to know what do butterflies like to eat.

  1. Nectar

Every butterfly’s primary source of food is nectar. They get nectar from plants and flowers. Butterflies like to visit flowers that are placed in a sunny but sheltered spot. If you are planning to make a butterfly garden, try to include plants that flower for the whole season. In this way, you can provide a constant supply of food from spring to early autumn.

Below I have listed down few nectar-rich plants for your garden.

  • Verbena: These are tall plants with lots of purple flowers on their wiry stems.
  • Hebe: Hebe is a very popular shrub with flowers. These shrubs attract butterflies mostly in summers.
  • Perennial Wallflower: These plants produce pretty purple flowers from spring till autumn.
  • Buddleia: Buddleia is also known as the butterfly bush. These plants come in various colors and flowers mostly in July and August.
  • Marjoram: Marjoram is a type of perennial herb that can grow up to 80 cm tall. You will see white, pink, or purple flowers grown from June to September.
  1. Old Fruit

You must be surprised to know that butterflies love a sweet treat! During the autumns, a sugary boost can help them to be fit and healthy. You can simply leave out an overripe banana outside in your garden. Are there any fruit trees in your garden? You can leave the fallen fruits on the ground from them. Butterflies do sip fruit juices from the following fruits.

  • Strawberries
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Apples
  1. Sugar Solution

You must have noticed that butterflies often feel sleepy when they first wake from their cocoons. Just prepare a boiled then cooled mixture of sugar and water. You can a bright-colored sponge to soak up this solution. This makes it easy for butterflies to take sips from it.

  1. Muddy Puddles

The glucose present in the nectar and fruits provides butterflies enough energy to fly. But butterflies also require some more nutrients for their growth. Sometimes, you may see them crowded around a muddy puddle. Butterflies intake minerals and salts from the soil by sipping from the muddy puddles.

Foods For Butterflies In Captivity

Do you know what do butterflies eat in captivity? You can also provide some homemade snacks to butterflies that pass through your yard. Below I have mentioned some food items you can feed them.

  • Gatorade

Using Gatorade or fruit juice is the easiest way to feed butterflies in a habitat. They have sugar and water content which provides enough nutrients to your butterflies.

  • Home-made Food

Many people among us still do not know what do butterflies eat at home.  You can make your own food solution to ensure maximum nutrients are provided to them. Below I have given some simple steps for making your own butterfly food.

  • Make a mixture of 3 ounces of water or Gatorade with 1 teaspoon of simple syrup.
  • After mixing them well, add 6 drops of soy sauce.
  • Now serve this liquid food in a small, shallow container for easy access.

Note: Make sure you fill the container with some marbles for butterflies to stand while they eat.

  • Fruits

Do butterflies eat fruit? Yes, they love to eat fruits! Generally, fruits serve as an adequate food source for all different types of butterflies. So, I think this is the best option if you have a variety of species in your captivity. All you have to do is take a skewer and add chunks of fruit onto it. Now, place these fruit skewers in the brightest part of the habitat.

Note: You can secure a bread twist tie underneath the fruits to stay on the skewer.

Foods For Different Types Of Butterflies

Below I have listed down some popular butterfly species and their preferred nectar plants for you.

  • Monarch Butterflies

Do you know what do monarch butterflies eat? Do not worry! I have mentioned down the favorite foods of monarch butterflies for you.

  1. Milkweed
  2. New England Aster
  3. Red Clover
  4. Zinnia
  5. Cosmos sulphureus
  6. Lantana
  7. Pentas
  8. Daisy
  9. Rotting Fruit
  10. Mexican sunflower
  • Blue Morpho Butterflies

Many among us are still unaware of what do blue morpho butterflies eat. Below I have a list of foods these butterflies love to eat.

  1. Decomposing fruits
  2. Sap
  3. Mud
  4. Fungi
  5. Decomposing animals
  6. Bananas
  7. Oranges
  8. Starfruit
  • Painted Lady Butterflies

Painted Lady butterflies are considered one of the most widespread of all butterflies in the world. They commonly visit gardens in the fall. You can look at the below-mentioned list to know what do paint lady butterflies eat.

  1. Blazing star
  2. Cosmos
  3. New England aster
  4. Joe-Pye weed
  5. Mexican sunflower
  6. Purple coneflower
  7. Zinnias
  8. Red clover
  9. Milkweed

What Do Caterpillars Eat?

Most of us think caterpillars only like eating leaves. But you must be surprised to know, some caterpillars love to eat other plant parts. Let us have a look at the list of foods caterpillars love to eat.

  1. Flower petals
  2. Stems
  3. Fruits
  4. Roots
  5. Pollen
  6. Seeds
  7. Ferns
  8. Mosses
  9. Dead leaves
  10. Fungus
  11. Lichen
  12. Sloth dung
  13. Larvae
  14. Chrysalids
  15. Insects

Fun Facts About Butterflies

I assume that by now you must have understood what do butterflies eat in detail. Let us now see some fun facts about butterflies.

Where Do Butterflies Live?

Butterflies are one of the beautiful insects that can be found all over the world! They are found on all continents excluding Antarctica. As they are cold-blooded creatures, they need warm weather to survive. Thus, they are widely found living in warm and tropical climates.

How Long Do Butterflies Live?

It is found that the average life span of a butterfly is one month. However, different butterfly species have a different life span. For example, the Painted Lady Butterflies has a life span of 12 months.

What Do Butterflies Do?

While Butterflies are not only beautiful creatures, but they do contribute a lot to our environment! Their presence and absence can tell us a lot about our environment.

  • They help flowers and plants pollinate.
  • Provide population control for plants
  • They help to detect problems in local environments.
  • They provide food sources for other animals.
  • Butterflies eat plenty of weedy plants.

FAQ

What Can I Give A Butterfly To Eat?

You can give the following food items to a butterfly to eat.

  • Fruit juice
  • 15% honey
  • 15% sugar water
  • Gatorade

How Do You Keep Butterflies Alive?

You can keep butterflies alive by offering them some fresh flowers and a sugary solution. Simply make a solution of sugar or honey in water and serve it to them.

Do Butterflies Drink Water?

Yes, butterflies use their proboscis to drink water and juices from rotting fruits.

Do Butterflies Eat Grass?

Yes, butterflies and caterpillars eat all plant matter. Caterpillars majorly eat leaves, but some of them do eat seeds and seed pods also.

Conclusion

In my above article, I have discussed what do butterflies eat in depth. Many adult butterflies love to drink nectar from flowers through their tongues. The majority of them also like to drink slices of banana, oranges, and watermelons. You can also make your own homemade butterfly food by mixing sugar in water. Just place this mixture into a small container. Planting nectar plants will not only attract the butterflies but also make them stay around for a longer period. So, by understanding what do butterflies eat, you can easily feed them on your own too.

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