Peculiarities – Butterfly Salt Lick

Butterflies are attracted to salt. For male butterflies especially, it is a vital nutrient. I decided to help them out and make a butterfly salt lick for my garden. I washed out a glass bowl, found an old discarded metal stand and glued them together.

I buried the legs of the stand into my garden soil near plants attractive to butterflies.

I brought home some of the Delaware Bay’s sandy beach.

I added a piece of driftwood, a few shells and sea glass shards as butterfly perches.

A bit of water to activate the salts and minerals in the sand was the last step. My project is finished. Hopefully, I will be able to capture a few photographs of butterflies drinking up the salt.

Click here to read why: Butterflies need salt?

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58 thoughts on “Peculiarities – Butterfly Salt Lick

  1. Michelle Southard-Thompson

    Love this idea… only problem is I live in SouthEast Missouri. No ocean beaches here. Any suggestions? I so want to do this for my garden…


      1. Michelle Southard Thompson

        To Vaericks…
        Thank you for the suggestion.

        My oldest son in an OTR trucker and thought of even asking him to pick up some sand on his next trip to the coast… BUT this idea is so much easier.

        Winter almost here… Will be doing this come Spring… Thank you so.much


    1. timelesslady

      Didn’t see any, but did see little tracks of something in the sand. Unfortunately, it was one of those summers when the butterfly population in our area seemed to be down. The cabbage whites did well and flourished, and laid many eggs that ate my cruciferous vegetables in the garden. I saw a few black swallowtails, very few yellow swallowtails, a lot of skippers toward the end of the season, and a few monarchs. On the whole the butterfly population wasn’t as large as it has been in past years.


  2. Dee

    I love this! I’m using your idea to make something similar for my butterfly garden. I believe they also like the salt tablets like those from water softener salt tablets.


    1. timelesslady

      Hi Melanie, I used sand from the shores of the Delaware bay which is full of natural salt and minerals. Are there any bodies of water near your home? You can also use plain old mud, or sandy soil from areas near your home. If you do this be sure the area you take soil or sand from is free of any chemical contaminants and not near a road. Kathy


  3. Elizabeth

    IS there a way to do this without the sand? I don’t live near body of salt water to get the sand. Could one use any type of sand and add salt to the water?


    1. timelesslady

      Butterflies also need salts that are in mud. If you add a little soil to a shallow dish and add water it should work. Stones half submerged in water would draw butterflies too. Be sure to use soil that has not been treated with lawn pesticides or fertilizer.


  4. I’m in Texas and the beach is 7 hrs away. Home depot has bag they call play sand for landscaping and etc. Can I use this should I use top soil or what. Do I add sea salt or rock to it? Thanks


    1. timelesslady

      I think they are just as happy with mud. They also will congregate on wet concrete. I’m not sure what is in the play sand but give it a try. I live in an area where I don’t have to add anything such as salt. I did add a few little footholds of rocks, etc. I know they also like rotting fruit.


  5. Kathy Cadiou

    since the bowl has no drainage…….doesn’t it attract mosquitoes once it has rained and the bowl has flooded? Here in Ohio, we have TONS of mosquitoes…….. 😦


    1. Great question! The bowl is filled with sand, this keeps water from accumulating. There is not enough clear water in the bowl to support the development of mosquito larva. The heat of the sun evaporates any standing water very quickly. I guess the key is to fill the bowl with sand or mud to the brim.


  6. As usual, a lot of great comments! I don’t know which I like the best! Too many choices, but I really like the natural sponge and sea salt idea. I have a little plant saucer outside that has a broken piece of a clay pot in it for the butterflies to perch on, and I let the rain fill it. My brother once told me a recipe for rotten fruit, but the bananas are all I can remember. I’ll try to see if he remembers the recipe, and post it when I can find it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you come across the recipe let me know…I will do a search for it today. I did hear that idea in the past, but like so much, in one ear and out the other it goes. It would be fun to try and blog about it. So far I’ve only seen one or two cabbage white butterflies. It will be awhile before the beauties show up.


    1. Butterfly populations seemed low in my yard this year. I had a lot of black swallowtails, flocks of cabbage whites, and plenty of skippers. The yellow swallowtails and the monarchs were few and far between. I didn’t see many painted ladies or other mid-sized butterflies either. We’ve had a couple of very cool summers and this seems to have affected the population. I have never seen a flock of butterflies on the salt lick, but in that area of my garden is where I see the most activity, so I think it helps.


  7. Written at age 14:


    Brandy barks at swooping swallows,
    Life, lowered to one foot or so
    In summer time is simple,
    As the lure of tired dogs and clover
    Greets only those who need to play.

    Scampering down outside stairs
    Past the skidding bicycle marks
    To a tumbling fit of joy
    Goes the only daily memory
    Of a happiness once known.

    Landing in a pile of limbs,
    Which includes the golden hair
    That shines of wetness on the
    Back of Brandy, the player
    Laughs at the summer sun.

    How long will it be
    Before the play begins again,
    Before the youthful joy
    Once known appears, before
    The love, if ever, returns?

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Thanks Debbie…we live near bays and seashore…in the NJ pine barrens too we often see butterflies on wet sand sucking up the nutrients and salts there. Thanks so much for visiting the blog and the comment.


  12. Laura Coleman

    I have an idea for the salt. In the pet store, the salt water aquarium section, there are several different sizes of salt to mix in the water, it is called Instant Ocean. I have used it in salt water aquariums, and it is very good.
    For the sand, play sand is okay, there are no chemicals in it. You could also just go to the nearest creek and get a couple cups of sand, rinse it good, mix up your Instant Ocean, and there you go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We went to the Philadelphia Flower Show last March, and there was a tent set up filled with all manner of butterflies. They sold Q-tips soaked in sugar water, and we walked around the tent holding our Q-tips, trying to attract butterflies. They DID land on our Q-tip and stayed a while as they sucked up the sugar water.

      Interesting the they also respond to salt!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Timelesslady

        I was there…I didn’t have a q-tip, but I was all over in that tent taking photographs. Maybe you’re in one! I was there in the middle of a snowstorm…can’t remember the exact day now. It was awesome.


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