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The Butterfly Project

Butterfly Gallery Navigation

Butterflies Home  Butterfly Feeder  Brush-footed  Gossamer-wing  Skippers  Sulphur  Swallowtail  Moths  Unidentified

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This is my backyard project for a Butterfly Feeder...
also designed to lure night-feeding moths

Please note, this page is in the beginning stages, as of mid-February, and will be expanded upon as 2011 goes on and results from this project come in. Check back from time to time to see how it works out! I will also be posting the different feeds tried and the results for each.

Purpose Expectations
Location
Design Construction
Materials
       
Butterfly - Moth Feeder

The premise and purpose of the project

First and foremost, I think this project will be fun and interesting!

As I have spent a lot of time looking for and shooting pictures of butterflies and moths I have noticed certain behaviors that I hope to replicate and expand upon. Both butterflies and moths seem attracted to certain things for feed that were surprising to me - chief among these being the edges of certain mud puddles and the sap flowing from wounds in some trees.

Butterfly - Moth Feeder
Ever interested in finding new ways to get pictures of moths, an item in the Earth Almanac section of the July-August 2007 edition of Audubon magazine really piqued my attention. (Confession: sometimes my magazines lay around a long time before getting read, but they do eventually get read) The item suggested coating tree bark with a sweetened mixture to attract underwing moths. This eventually led to some research on butterfly feeders and on to the beginnings of this project. Butterfly - Moth Feeder
Butterfly - Moth Feeder Lately, I've also been concerned about butterflies and moths in general. Over the past couple of years in particular, the numbers I've been seeing seems to have fallen precipitously. As with too many of our fellow beings on this little planet, we are probably killing off our butterflies, too. This year I saw only a small hand full of Monarchs migrating through... far from the thousands of the not-too-distant past.
Side Note: I do little enough, but any little bit helps; I put out bird feed to help mitigate to a tiny extent the huge damages done by feral cats and by the people who own cats and allow them to prowl and kill birds - the second leading cause of death to birds, after glass windows. Estimates of cat predation on birds range from the ultra-conservative 100 Million a year to nearly 2 Billion in the United States alone - not to mention the damage cats do to other small wildlife and, in turn, the larger wildlife that are their natural predators. My yard is a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat - so it helps a little bit. Your back yard can be, too - CLICK HERE for more information. Butterfly - Moth Feeder
Butterfly - Moth Feeder Expectations: Aside from helping butterflies and moths to survive a little better, I hope to see and photograph new species as well as species I have only rarely caught sight of before. I also expect to be feeding a huge number of bees, yellow jackets, wasps, Circada Killers, and flies of all sorts.
Location: I have tried to locate this project so it would be effective and beneficial for the butterflies and moths as well as being convenient for me for purposes of refreshing the feeders and shooting pictures. Therefore, I kept it away from my tiny pond that attracts dragonflies (predators) and away from bird feeders. It is located by a small garden that normally attracts some butterflies anyway and has full sun during much of the day, but also some shady periods. This location also has the added benefit of being very handy for me! Butterfly - Moth Feeder
Butterfly - Moth Feeder

Design

I decided upon a rather large feeder to, hopefully, attract a diversity as well as a large number of butterflies and moths. Additionally, this allows me to try multiple foods at the same time to gauge relative popularity of different things. The design allows me to mount a single feeder, or an array of three feeders at once.

I used 2" diameter, Schedule 40 PVC pipe. As it turns out, it isn't as rigid as I thought it would be; I may end up having to get a steel pipe to slip down in the upright section for reinforcement if it proves to be too limber.

Back To TopConstruction:

The construction is pretty easy and straight forward. A 5' pipe goes 17" into the ground and extends 43" above grade. The hole was dug with a post hole digger to 19" deep and then, for the top 4", was extended outward to cover a circumference of 22" to allow for a concrete base extending outward from the post itself to keep grass trimming to a minimum and to help defeat ants.

Here in Louisiana both Argentine and Fire ants love to get into anything they can find to eat; extra precautions become necessary. The hole was filled with some cement prior to placing the upright pipe into it. The bottom of the pipe was sealed closed and put down to allow about 2" of cement to still be below the bottom of the pipe; the pipe end was also wrapped in a plastic bag. This allows the possibility that the pipe can be relatively easily removed from the hole if necessary and the extra cement and closure of the pipe at the bottom defeats ants from building a nest extending up into the pipe itself.

Butterfly - Moth FeederTop further defeat the ants, part way up the 2" post a 3" x 2" PVC connector was used. This connector had been ground out at the shoulder where the 2" pipe would normally be stopped when used for its proper purpose. This allows the connector to slip over the 2" pipe. When positioned on the 2" pipe and cemented in place and then silicone sealed at the bottom, this provides a small reservoir for oil. The oil prevents the ants from climbing up to feast. My bird feeders are mounted on galvanized pipe and each has a flange where I can put a little oil from time to time; this effectively keeps the ants out of the birdseed - hummingbird feeders, too! To keep water out of the oil reservoir, I added a 3" rubber rain collar above it. This was a loose fit, but secured with some silicone and then sealed again over that from both top and bottom, it should stay solidly in place.

Butterfly - Moth FeederGlue was used in only two places: to fasten the oil reservoir to the post and to fasten the Melamine plates to the 4" x 2" PVC connectors. I got a surprise here: PVC cement would not adhere to the Melamine plates; some Goop Adhesive did the job spectacularly! All of the other parts are just pushed together. This allows changing the configuration of the feeder easily. The Melamine plates each got 6 fair-sized holes drilled through them for drainage. These plates are not to hold the feed - they serve the dual purpose of sealing the top of the 2" x 4" PVC connectors from rain and provide a platform for the plates that will hold the feed.

Butterfly - Moth FeederI used 2 pieces of 5' PVC Schedule 40 pipe; this size is readily available from Home Depot and fits easily into my car without additional hassles. Also, it proved to be the perfect amount of pipe. One 5' piece provided the upright post. The other was cut into short nipples for connecting the Tees together and the 4"x2" Connectors to the Elbows. A nipple was also cut to put a top cap above the topmost Elbow; another 4"x2" Connector fastened to yet another Melamine plate could have been used here as a 4th feeder... but that might have been overkill! After cutting the nipples, the remainder of the 5' length of PVC was divided into 3 pieces for the arms. Since none of these pieces are glued, the 3 arms may be moved and arranged as desired and the whole top part may be removed and a single feeder used instead atop the post - as I expect to do early this spring when there will probably be few customers at this restaurant.

I used some grease when attaching the upper section (of 3 arms) to the post and when attaching the Plate/Connector pieces to the Elbows in order to facilitate removing these pieces more easily when I wanted to. I should have taped off part of the nipples and ends of the connectors when spray painting as some spray got on these areas and made for a tighter fit than would have been ideal.

Materials Listing

  • 2 - 5' x 2" PVC Schedule 40
  • 3 - 2" PVC Schedule 40 Tee
  • 3 - 2" PVC Schedule 40 Elbow
  • 3 - 4" x 2" PVC Schedule 40 Coupling
  • 1 - 3" x 2" PVC Schedule 40 Coupling
  • 1 - 2" PVC Schedule 40 Cap
  • 1 - 3" Rubber Rain Collar
  • 6 - Melamine Dinner Plates
  • PVC Cement
  • Waterproof Silicone
  • Goop Adhesive
  • Spray Paint
  • Bag Concrete
  • Grease or Vaseline
Butterfly - Moth Feeder
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