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How To Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies

by Jennifer Weldon

Simply watching a hummingbird makes me feel more energetic. I wish I could dart around like they do and get things done that quickly. Did you know that hummingbirds do have legs and feet? An age-old myth is that they don’t. I saw one perched on the bird feeder last week. You didn’t think they flew 24 hours a day and laid eggs in mid-air, right?

Hummingbird Basics

Hummingbirds are attracted by red. That is why most of the commercially-offered feeders you see in the store are made from red glass or plastic. Although any bright color will attract hummingbirds, red seems the better choice. Hummingbirds are very territorial. If you have more than one of them in your area, you should have several feeders for each bird. Place them in a grouping so one bird can’t defend them all at the same time. The alternative is to place them in different places of your yard out of sight of the other feeders. Feeders should be placed close to bushes and hedges so the birds can perch and rest for a while or build a nest. The feeders should be kept within line of sight of the nesting/resting hedges or bushes. If the bird can’t see its food source it will move on to another location. Hummingbirds like to make their nests from soft items such as string and pieces of fabric. Placing these type of nesting materials in your yard will encourage their nest building in your yard.

Hummingbird Food

Hummingbird food has got to be the cheapest there is, next to natural food they find. Mix ¼-cup of sugar to one cup of water. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and boil for 2 minutes. Let it cool and fill your feeder. Don’t add any food coloring or fragrances. The color of the feeder will attract the birds and hummingbirds have no sense of smell. If you plant flowers, a mass of red funnel-shaped blossoms seem to attract the birds better than other shapes and colors. Although, they will eat from other flowers, so you can have other varieties to breakup the color scheme. To keep the birds around all summer you should plant flowers that bloom all summer or different flowers that bloom at various times during the season.

Occasionally set out a banana or peach to rot and attract fruit flies. Hummingbirds consider fruit flies to be their caviar. Clean out your feeders on a regular basis. The nectar will be good for a few days only and it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Take the feeder apart and soak it in a solution made of ¼-cup of bleach to each gallon of water. Let it soak for an hour, then thoroughly rinse, and air dry.


Butterflies need two different types of plants to be happy. They need nectar food plants and plants host plants to lay their eggs on. Butterflies are fussy about the plants they use as hosting plants – milkweed is a favorite. Butterflies are near-sighted and their taste buds are in their feet. You’ll need a large area of brightly colored flowers in the sun. Butterflies don’t like shady areas and can’t see the flowers if it is very shady. There is a bush called the butterfly bush because they find its nectar irresistible and it gives them a place to rest.

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