Last weekend, on a walking trail about an hour south of where I live, I saw my first Mourning Cloak butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa) of the season. Invariably, butterflies make me smile.
Mourning Cloaks arrive in mid-spring in Maine and can sometimes be seen sipping the sap from trees that have been damaged during the winter. They prefer maple, birch, oak, and even poplar sap.
Different species of butterflies and moths have a wide variety of food preferences. Most prefer flower nectar. However, some will feast on fermented fruit, and others are attracted to the excrement found in outhouses. (Eew!)
Perhaps you’ve seen some early arrivals in your neighborhood too. You can increase the odds of seeing butterflies and some moths by creating a source of nourishment for them.
Here is a simple recipe to attract those winged beauties:
2 over-ripened bananas
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 can of beer
jar as a container
In a bowl, use a fork to mix the bananas and the sugar. Add water a little bit at a time so that the mixture becomes a thick but spreadable paste. Pour this mixture into the jar and add the beer. Shake. You should have an easily spreadable paste. If you think it is still too thick, add a bit more water.
Now, you can either pour a thin coating onto a dish or use the mixture like paint and apply it to trees or rocks. If you have a camera trap, consider how you could use these together for capturing great pictures of your visitors. Remember, moths will likely visit at night.
Two important cautions: First, be mindful that other winged creatures such as wasps may be attracted to the mixture. Additionally, if you live in an area where there are other wild creatures such as bears, know that they enjoy both sugar and beer. Please use caution. Stay safe.
Feel free to send along any photos of your butterfly visitors!
The recipe is adapted from The Big Book of Nature Activities by Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg.
This challenge is rated easy.