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perennialfan275

Do you have a salt lick for your butterflies?

perennialfan275
3 years ago
last modified: 3 years ago

Many people with butterfly gardens provide host plants and nectar sources for them, but unfortunately butterflies have other needs as well. Like all living things, butterflies need minerals. Sodium in particular is very important to them as the females need it in order to lay eggs (although oddly enough the male is usually the one who provides these minerals during mating). I will admit I never really thought about this much until watching National Geographic. I was watching a show on South America (if I'm not mistaken), and I remember watching the butterflies "puddling" (finding mud puddles and drinking from them) and I thought perhaps we can help them get what they need. There are many ways we can provide these minerals, and I'll post a link to a video I found below that explains one way you can make a simple "puddling station" for your butterflies. Now, this is by no means essential. There are many other ways butterflies can get minerals, but this will encourage them to visit your yard instead of going somewhere else.


I will admit, up until a few years ago I never really thought or cared much about butterflies. But the more things I've planted in my gardens over the years the more I notice them. I started to enjoy having them around and greatly look forward to their return every year. In short I've come to love and care for them, because they are beautiful and I've realized how important to our ecosystem they are. I never really thought that butterflies needed our help, but when you read about millions of monarchs dying every year it makes me want to try to help them. If giving them a little salt means a few more butterflies will survive this year (or that more eggs will be laid), it's worth it IMO.



Comments (13)

  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    3 years ago

    Thanks for posting! It seems pretty easy to make. I personally wouldn't do the fruit, though -- would attract too many other insects and might get pretty gross pretty quickly (especially when the flies find it...) I wonder if the butterflies land on manure piles out in the field and make use of those -- having horses, I may not even need to bother with the puddle.

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Around here there is plenty of sodium available from road salt, and as MK3 mentioned, manure often provides it as well. In areas of warmer winters or that are less rural, it might be more of an issue. I deliberately don’t set up any kind of feeding stations because I don’t want to encourage deer or bears to visit near the house, though they are welcome in the woods and fields.

  • docmom_gw
    3 years ago

    If we relax the traditional concept of a manicured lawn, and allow for some bare earth/mud in our yards, there will be adequate “puddling” options available. An occasional spray with a hose in dry periods will provide the moisture needed.

  • Jilly
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the video!

    I had a set-up for them at my last house, but not this one yet. I plan to this summer. I’m in a very hot, dry climate and love seeing them come up for a refreshments. :)

    I’ve had these two photos saved for inspo. I like the wreath one — just a glass pie plate nestled into a grapevine wreath. I’d add sand to it.

  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    3 years ago

    ^^ that hanging water feeder is pretty! I wonder if the birds get into it, though.

  • Jilly
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    mxk3, here’s her post about it ... she said a goldfinch came up right away. I think big birds might try, but not like it being wobbly and leave it. I keep various bird baths geared towards the sizes of the birds. My Blue Jays and Doves prefer my heavy concrete ones. Smaller cuties like my more shallow ones. My Mockingbirds do whatever they want, whenever they want, and we just try to stay out of their way. 😄


    https://empressofdirt.net/bird-butterfly-water-feeder/

  • perennialfan275
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Yes mxk3 and NHBabs you're right. I've read they will get it from manure (although I personally have never seen them do this), as well as blood, sweat and tears (not even joking about this) from other animals. I didn't want to gross anyone out so I didn't mention it. The nice thing about this puddling station is you can place it in your yard, so you're able to observe the butterflies while they feed. I suppose if you had horse manure in your backyard you could also observe them but I'm going to assume most people don't.

  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    3 years ago

    ^^ I have a horse, so have manure. Can't say as though I've ever noticed butterflies hanging out on the piles, but then again I'm not way out in the pasture every day to notice. The veggie garden is right next to the pasture and I have seen lots of monarchs and other butterflies flitting around in there, so if they need the (literal) cr@p they can find it. Would be kind of fun to make-shift something close to the house, though -- although having lots of milkweed in the beds pulls them in, too!

  • Jilly
    3 years ago

    That’s beautiful!

  • PRO
    KD Landscape
    3 years ago

    Thank you Jinx. Gracious of you to say.

  • sharon2079
    3 years ago

    mkx3 growing up I had a horse too.... never notice the butterflies going to the horse dung.... however, they use to visit cow dung all the time....


    I went to Butterfly World in Pompano Florida along time ago. They recommend that people put out a saltlick.... or minerals... I don't remember too much about how to do it. I just remember that the butterflies were all over it.... so thank you for posting this and reminding me about it.... I do have a question for those who do it. How do you keep the salt from getting on your plants so the salt doesn't kill everything.

    Thanks

    Sharon

  • Jilly
    3 years ago

    We stopped by our favorite Talavera place yesterday (it’s all outside, we weren’t near any people) and found this birdbath ... it’ll be perfect for a butterfly water feeder. I haven’t decided where to put it yet. We have outdoor cats (neighbors’ cats, we love them visiting) who jump up on the other bird baths, so we’ll have to epoxy this to be one piece.

    I think it’s a very good depth, and maybe the bright colors will attract butterflies.


    In reality, it’ll probably end up being where wasps and yellowjackets get some refreshment. 😆


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