What’s the buzz about butterfly houses – do they work?

This butterfly house looks great in the garden
This butterfly house looks great in the garden

It was only recently that I came to know about butterfly hibernation boxes (sometimes called butterfly houses). I have never seen one in a garden in my area and the idea made me rather inquisitive. So I set out to do some research about butterfly houses. Do they work?

What is a butterfly house?

A butterfly house or hibernation box is a small wooden box with slits in the front for butterflies to get in and out. Inside there are normally some upright pieces of bark or moss fixed to the back for the butterflies to hold onto. The idea is that the butterfly species that overwinter as adults will be able to use these boxes as a safe place to spend the winter, protected from the weather. Butterflies could also use them to take shelter in bad weather and perhaps a night.

Do butterflies actually use them?

A plain butterfly house, ready for you to decorate or leave as is
A plain butterfly house, ready for you to decorate or leave as is

I could not find any reports of butterflies actually using these hibernation boxes. Even so, in some areas they are popular and many gardeners have them in their gardens.

They are still being manufactured and people are still buying them. So this leads me to the next question…

Why have a butterfly house if butterflies don’t use it?

Well, butterflies might not use these boxes, but other insects might. People have found various types of insects using these boxes including wasps, bees, ladybirds and spiders. So having one is not a waste if something is going to make use of it. Many of these little houses are very good looking and add a lovely feature to the garden, whether they are used or not.

Where is the best place to put it?

An elegant tower-type butterfly house
An elegant tower-type butterfly house

If you want to try to attract butterflies then you will need to choose your site carefully.

Preferably close to nectar bearing flowers where the butterflies feed, but in a sheltered spot in a bushy area of the garden. Butterflies will naturally look for shelter in bushy areas where they can get protection from wind, rain and predators. This is where they are most likely to look for a place hide. There is a chance that they might use the house you provide if it is in a spot where they would take shelter anyway. I guess it is worth a try.

There are many different ideas about how to attract butterflies to a hibernation box, but since there is little or no success I don’t think it is worth taking this advice too seriously. Just have fun, put it where you think it looks good and might have a chance of being used. At the very least it will be a good conversation piece in your garden.

Take a quick look at a selection of butterfly houses that are available to buy.

Do you have a butterfly hibernation box in your garden? Let us know if you have ever had butterflies use it, or what creatures you have found using it.

If you want more butterflies visiting your garden take a look at my article Attracting Butterflies.

8 thoughts on “What’s the buzz about butterfly houses – do they work?

  1. I’ve just cleaned out the little house I won at an outdoor weekend for women in New Hampshire 2 years ago. Wrens used the house this summer filling it with nesting materials (but alas no eggs). My plan is to put it in a more secluded place in the woods at the perimeter of our yard. The butterfly bush still has some flowers so my fingers are crossed! Shoshana

    Reply
    1. Post author

      At least it got used by something.
      I hope it works out and you do get some butterflies using it. I still have not managed to get and worthwhile information about attracting butterflies to these houses. I hope your plan of putting it near the butterfly bush works.

      Reply
  2. Ella

    Is it worth getting them butterfly kits where you have caterpillars and grow them into butterflies, move the butterfly’s into the house when they are ready to leave? It’s said butterflies come back to where there born! Not sure how true this is though

    Reply
    1. Post author

      I have never tried one of those kits, but I think that they should work. Just keep in mind that the little caterpillars will need lots of fresh green food. their appetite is a lot bigger than they are. you would need to keep an eye on where they are so that you can more the cocoons to the little house.
      Let me know how it goes, I am sure there are other people who would be interested to know if it worked for you.

      Reply
  3. Elaine Gilbert

    I recently won a butterfly box and it came with 3 little cloth bags. It’s a triangle shaped box.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      I have not seen any with the little bags that you refer to. Not too sure what they are for. Perhaps you can contact the people you got it from, or the supplier and they can put you on the right track.
      Remember to put it where the ants won’t get to it. I hope it works for the wildlife in your garden. Let us know if you have success with it and what decides to use it as a home.

      Reply
  4. I can see how it may be difficult to attract butterflies into a butterfly house. I am going to use mine to keep hibernating butterflies which I find in my house and cobwebby barn safe until the weather gets warmer.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      That is a really brilliant idea. It will definitely help to keep them sheltered from the weather.
      Just check on them from time to time to make sure that the house does not get taken over by other insects that may be able to harm them.
      Let us know how it works out.

      Reply

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