How To Make Butterfly Nectar (Homemade Recipe)

Want to learn how to make butterfly nectar?

Offering sugar water or nectar in a butterfly feeder is a great way to attract these majestic insects to your yard.

Butterflies need to eat a lot of nectar each day for energy to fly around and help pollinate the plants.

Usually, butterflies will get nectar from flowers. But what if you want to attract the butterflies but you’re not so good at the gardening part?

Of course, you can buy readymade butterfly nectar, because we all need a bit of convenience, right?

If you do want to buy premade butterfly nectar I suggest this brand. It has a few added nutrients that keep the butterflies’ healthy.

The good news is that you don’t need to buy butterfly nectar. It’s so simple to make at home.

Why Make DIY butterfly nectar?

One thing’s for sure, making your own homemade butterfly nectar is so quick, cheap, and easy.

And the best part? It is made of just three ingredients.

Once you’ve tried this homemade butterfly sugar water recipe you’ll never look back.

First, we’ll start with the nectar recipe. Then we can look at the most common questions I get asked about using DIY nectar in your butterfly feeders.

Let’s jump right in.

Butterfly nectar recipe

homemade butterfly nectar recipe

Homemade Butterfly Nectar Recipe

Attract butterflies to your backyard with this quick and easy homemade butterfly nectar recipe.
Course Butterfly Food
Cuisine Insect Food


  • Large Pan
  • Whisk
  • Storage Bottle
  • Funnel (optional)


  • 10 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar fructose or white cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Soya Sauce Regular, not low salt/sodium


No Boil Instructions

  • Add your water to the pan.
  • Add the sugar into the water.
  • Stir the mixture well until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add Soya Sauce and stir well.
  • Decant the mixture into the storage bottle using the funnel
  • Fill a clean butterfly feeder with nectar.
  • Store excess sugar water in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Boiling Instuctions

  • Add your water to the pan.
  • Place on the stove and boil the water for 15 minutes.
  • Take the water off the heat and immediately add the sugar.
  • Allow the sugar water to cool to room temperature.
  • Add Soya Sauce and stir well.
  • Decant the mixture into the storage bottle using the funnel.
  • Fill a clean butterfly feeder with nectar.
  • Store excess sugar water in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
Keyword attracting butterflies, butterfly food, butterfly nectar, butterfly sugar water, butterfly water

Butterfly Nectar FAQs

The Best Sugar For Butterfly Nectar

Fructose is the best sugar to use for your butterfly nectar (this is a great one).

But don’t worry if you don’t have any to hand. A great alternative is plain old white cane sugar.

You want to get something that is as close to natural nectar as possible. Fructose and cane sugar are the best options.

I’d highly recommend using fructose if you live in a dry area, as it doesn’t recrystallize.

Be aware if you live in a hot area where butterflies can dehydrate quickly. In these conditions, cane sugar has the potential to recrystallize and harm the butterflies.

Alternative sugars that you can use are:

  • Honey
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses

Although nectars made with these sugars can be a bit hit and miss with butterflies. You’ll find you attract a greater variety of butterflies using fructose or cane sugar.

I would recommend avoiding sugars that are not ‘pure’ or have additives. These are the ones you should avoid.

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Mixed sugars (like turbinado)
  • xylitol
  • stevia
  • Corn syrup

Best Liquid For Butterfly Nectar

The best liquid for your butterfly nectar is plain old tap water.

You may want to boil the water if you’re worried about any nasties from the tap. However, even a quick run through a water filter will do the trick.

You may want to add a small bit of fruit juice to your mix. But, I would opt for freshly squeezed fruit juice. That’s because store-bought fruit juice is likely to have extra sweeteners added.

A note on using Gatorade

Another option you may have seen is to use Gatorade. That’s because Gatorade is sweet and it contains essential salts and vitamins that butterflies need.

The problem with Gatorade is that it contains additives that aren’t great for butterflies. Another worry with Gatorade is that it contains dyes to get those bright colors. These dyes and preservatives can be harmful to butterflies.

A good alternative to Gatorade is using clear Pedialyte or Emergen “C” powder, both of which you can find easily in the grocery store.

Butterfly Nectar Ratio

What is the correct ratio of sugar to water for butterflies?

This recipe calls for a ratio of 10 parts water to 1 part sugar (10:1)

The parts can be whatever measurement you want (cups, oz. etc.) just make it the same for both the sugar and water. Usually, this is easiest with cup measurements.

With this recipe, you’ll make your water ten times that of your sugar amount.

In this recipe, it’s 10 cups (or 10 oz.) of water to one cup (or 1 oz.) of sugar.

Butterflies like quite diluted nectar compared to hummingbird nectar or nee nectar.

Ideally, butterfly nectar should be between a ratio of 10:1 and 20:1.

You may find that different ratios attract different butterfly species.

You may also find that making your butterfly sugar water stronger can attract other insect’s sugar as bees or wasps.

Do I Need To Boil Sugar Water For Butterflies?

You don’t need to boil the water you use for your butterfly nectar. However, there are pros and cons to using boiled and unboiled water. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Unboiled water

This recipe is much quicker and easier if you don’t boil the water

  • Boiling the water can concentrate the nectar as the water evaporates.
  • Boiling water will not remove impurities such as fluoride. In fact, it will concentrate impurities levels.

Boiled water

There are a few benefits to boiling the water you’ll use in this recipe including

  • Sterilizes the water to kill off bacteria and viruses
  • Nectar last longer without spoiling
  • Sugar dissolves better and prevents crystals from forming.

It’s all down to personal preference if you want to boil the water or not. But let’s face it, butterflies drink from muddy puddles, so your mixture doesn’t need to be clean and purified.

If you still prefer to boil then use then you have the option in the recipe instructions.

Why add soya sauce to butterfly nectar?

Soya sauce seems like a weird thing to add to a recipe for butterflies.

The reason it’s added is that soya sauce is full of salts that are vital to helping butterflies survive. Male butterflies need a salt of salt to replenish lost nutrients when mating.

In fact, butterflies usually get salt from muddy puddles.

Adding the soya sauce gives them a natural salt boost when drinking the nectar.

That is why it’s important to use regular soya sauce and not any reduced salt kind.

Should I add salt to butterfly nectar?

You can add a small amount of table, sea, or rock salt to your butterfly nectar instead of soya sauce.

This may seem like a better option as store-bought soya sauce can have additives. However, the soya sauce also has more minerals that the pure salt doesn’t contain.

If you want to use pure salt I recommend ½ a teaspoon as an alternative to the soya sauce in this recipe.

3 best butterfly nectar feeders

A butterfly feeder is great for serving up your butterfly nectar.

Now there are a lot of options on the market but these are my top 3 favorite butterfly feeders:

  1. Birds Choice Butterfly Feeder Kit

2. BRECK’S Purple Butterfly Feeder

3. Wildlife World Butterfly House and Feeder

I recommend you opt for a feeder with a shallow dish or a surface that the butterflies can sip from.

You can even use a dish sponge soaked in the butterfly nectar for them to suck up the fluid without getting wet.

How to make homemade butterfly feeders

Can I use a hummingbird feeder for butterflies?

You can use a hummingbird feeder for butterflies. Just be sure to make the solution inside one which is suitable for the butterflies or you’ll mostly get hummingbirds visiting.

The butterflies will be attracted to the red color of a hummingbird feeder. Try to avoid using one that has yellow parts as this will attract wasps and bees.

What can I feed butterflies besides sugar water?

Flowers and nectar aren’t the only way to attract butterflies to your yard.

One of the best ways to attract certain butterfly species to your yard is by offering them fruit.

The best way to provide fruit is to cut it open and offer it at a butterfly feeder. Fruits with a high water content are ideal, including:

  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Nectarine

The butterflies will happily land on the fruit and sip up the liquids. The fruit juice is full of sugar which gives them the same energy as flower nectar.

You can also offer other fruits which aren’t as juicy, such as bananas. It’s better to let these fruits ripen a little. This helps the fruit get softer and easier for the butterflies to eat.

Be aware that feeding butterflies fruit is a lot more maintenance than nectar feeders. That’s because the fruit will attract lots of other animals such as ants or even mice, rats, and raccoons.

If you’re putting fruit out for the butterfly only offer it when you’ll be around to watch them feed.

You can check out my guide on what butterflies eat to find more about their diet.

Can butterflies eat hummingbird nectar?

If you already feed hummingbirds in your yard, you’ll be using nectar in your feeders.

So you’re probably wondering if you can just put the same nectar in other feeders. It would sure save you some time.

Don’t use the same nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies. They are two different species with different nutritional needs.

The problem is that hummingbird nectar is a 4:1 ratio of sugar water.

Butterfly nectar is a lot more dilute and should be anything from 10:1 to 20:1.

That’s why you won’t find butterflies at hummingbird feeders. The nectar is too sweet for them.

Also, it’s best to add a small amount of salt to your butterfly feeders to give essential nutrients. Hummingbirds should never consume added salt into their nectar.

That’s why it’s best to make two separate nectar batches for butterflies and hummingbirds

How long does butterfly nectar last?

You can make a large batch of butterfly nectar and store it to use again. Put in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 weeks.

If you notice mold growing at any time throw it out and make a fresh batch.

You should clean and refill your butterfly feeder at least once a week. This may need to be done sooner if it’s very hot during the summer months.

Final thoughts

I hope you enjoy making this butterfly nectar.

This recipe is very quick and easy to make. You’ll probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. You’ll be able to make large batches and keep the butterfly’s visiting your yard all summer long.

Let me know which butterflies you want to attract to your feeders.

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