Artificial nectar recipe

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  • #13833


    This from lepidopterist Nigel Venters, courtesy of the IBBA:

    As we all know butterflies rely on nectar for food, and a good substitute is sugar water. Products like Gatorade are flavoured with many options, but the sweetness is always the same, from cane sugar, (always avoid the diet varieties which are useless as artificial nectar!) The flavouring can act as an original attractent, rather like scent from a flower, but once tasted, the butterflies learn to visit the artificial nectar pads again and again.

    Real nectar is a complex cocktail, with sweetness derived from fructose, which is fruit sugar. Chemically almost identical to cane sugar, but as jam makers have learned, fructose does not crystalize as cane sugar does. If you live in an area that has low humidity, and/or long dry periods, then, although more expensive than cane sugar, I recommend you use fructose as a base for artificial nectar. Why? Well on many occasions in dry conditions a well fed butterfly can be killed by the cane sugar re-crystalising inside the abdomen.

    Now it is also well known, that in many species, male butterflies,(and it is only males!) will congregate on damp mud to sip fluids. Many males of a number of species will also sip from the most disgusting sources, like dog faeces, dead putrefying animals, decomposing seafood, etc.This applies only to the males, never the females, so why do they do it?

    Analystic evidence of the mud, etc. at these gatherings shows that sodium salts, other minerals, and even vitamins are taken in by the males. This seems to be to ensure that the spermatiphore is formed effectively, and as we all know, this is important for mating. So I came up with a simple recipe, which accounted for the male’s interest in salts, minerals, and vitimens, that also was effective for the females. It works well for me, and many others who have tried it. Those of you who may like to try it, the recipe follows:

    Boil a kettle of water and pour into a jugful of sugar (Cane or fructose, whichever you choose) Pour just enough to dissolve the sugar into a pourable, but thick syrup. Now add drops of Rich Soy sauce, (Do not use diet, or low salt, only original!) Pour the drops until the mixture turns into a weak tea without milk colour, and mix well. allow to cool and then bottle in an old pop bottle, and seal with the stopper. No need to use the fridge, this mixture will keep for ever without chilling. Just pour a small amount out when you need it and dilute with water, at 5% to 10% solution as artificial nectar. This is very cheap and effective, and only when diluted do you need to change it evry 2 days or so, just like any other art. nectar.

    I have no problems with Gatorade, it just seems an expensive, and inconvenient way to feed the butterflies to me. But I do always wonder about the artificial preservatives in it!

    Hope this is of interest.


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  • #24344


    with the recent wet weather I made some of this up. I soaked a kitchen cloth with it and put it in a dish. The butterflies feed quite happily when I put them on it, but I’ve never seen one go to it by itself. Do I need to keep placing them on it or am I being over anxious and they’re just not that hungry?

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