butterfly feeder

Create a feeding station where butterflies can safely land and eat. ATTRIBUTION: Orin Zebest (Flickr)

While they are pests to some, birds, squirrels, butterflies, ladybugs, and other garden critters can be beneficial to outdoor ecosystems. Some are natural predators that feed on “bad” bugs, while others can live harmoniously in your backyard. If you enjoy watching these creatures as I do, you may want to invite more to your lawn or garden. Buying or making feeders is an effective way to attract a variety of animals to your yard while also providing a source of nutrition when food becomes scarce. Here, I’ll share a few feeder ideas.


With minimal time and effort, you can attract various species of birds to your yard, where you can sit and enjoy their company. Most store-bought bird feeders consist of a table, tray, or housing device that provides a steady stream of food. A majority of wild birds will happily eat bird seed, such as millet, sunflower, or canola seed.

You can also make your own simple bird feeder using a variety of supplies. One of the simplest feeders is a pine cone bird feeder. Secure a string around the top of a pine cone, smear peanut butter all over the pine cone, and then cover the peanut butter with bird seed. Hang the pine cone bird feeder on a sturdy tree branch in your backyard.


Squirrels are not only cute and fuzzy, but they can also provide endless entertainment. Unfortunately, these mischievous rodents will often chow down on seed from your bird feeders if not provided their own source of food. Store-bought squirrel feeders range from traditional munch boxes that require the squirrel to lift the lid to eat a seed blend, peanuts, or cracked corn to table-and-chair feeders that provide the squirrel a place to sit as it devours an ear of corn.

Make your own simple squirrel feeder with just a wide-mouthed mason jar, a wooden paint stick, and some wire. Remove the lid of the Mason jar and use the wire to secure the paint stick to the jar. Leave four to five inches of the paint stick extending out to give the squirrel a place to sit and eat. Use additional wire to secure the feeder to a tree, fence, or post. Fill the Mason jar with a treat for the squirrels, such as peanuts.


Butterflies are not just beautiful to look at, but they also provide benefits to your backyard. They pollinate plants, which is essential for plant reproduction, and provide a natural food source for wildlife, such as birds. To attract butterflies, many people purchase butterfly feeders that mimic the design of real flower blossoms and hold fresh fruit pieces.

You can also make your own basic butterfly feeder using a plate or plastic lid and some string. Punch a hole into each side of the plate and attach string. Hang the butterfly feeder from a sturdy tree branch. Place overripe, spoiling fruit on the plate or lid to attract butterflies. Pour a small amount of orange juice on the fruit to keep it from drying out.


Ladybugs are considered “good bugs” that help control pests in your garden. These insects are capable of eating 50 to 60 aphids per day as well as other unwanted pests. Store-bought ladybug feeders come in a variety of designs but are typically hung from a branch or hook and filled with sugar water.

To make your own ladybug feeder, you will need a piece of bamboo that is approximately 10 inches in length and 2 inches in diameter. Cut the bamboo on the ends at an angle to prevent water from entering. Next, drill a hole into each end of the bamboo and tie a piece of twine to each side. Hang your ladybug feeder on a tree and fill with some raisins to attract ladybugs.