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?
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?
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.