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How to Make a Butterfly Mud Bath

By Willi Galloway

How to Make a Butterfly Mud Bath. Flowers are certainly a key component of a butterfly garden, but if you want to lure in a wide range of butterflies, you'll need to add an unexpected feature to your garden: mud. Many butterflies, including Swallowtails, feed on nectar from flowers, but they also get essential minerals and salts from mud and animal manures. Butterflies often gather in mud puddles--a phenomenon called mud-puddling. You can create a more attractive mud puddle in your garden by building a special butterfly mud bath in a flowerbed. Here's how to make one.

Choose a sunny spot in your garden to build the butterfly mud bath. Placing the bath in a flower garden planted with heliotrope, asters, zinnias, sunflowers, lavender, coreopsis and other nectar-rich flowers will help ensure that butterflies pay a visit.

Place a glazed ceramic pot saucer in the site you've selected for the bath. Fill the saucer to within a ½ inch of the rim with a 1:1 mix of garden soil and composted steer manure, which is available in bags at nurseries and garden centers. Don't worry; the manure does not smell bad!

Thoroughly moisten the mud mixture and keep it consistently moist throughout the summer. Then sit back and watch for butterflies!

In fall, dump out the mud mixture, clean the saucer and store it indoors for the winter. Bring the bath back outdoors and refill it in late spring. Be sure to place the bath near a patio or seating area so you can easily observe the butterflies when they visit your garden!


Things You Will Need

  • Glazed ceramic pot saucer
  • 1 bag of steer manure


About the Author


Willi Evans Galloway loves to read, write, talk about, and teach people how to garden organically and grow their own food. For the past five years, she has worked as the West Coast Editor of Organic Gardening magazine. Willi also recently created www.digginfood.com, a site that serves up gardening and cooking inspiration. Willi lives in Seattle with her husband, four pet chickens, a lawn-destroying labrador, and way too many tomato plants.