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How to make a butterfly house: a step by step guide

Do your bit to support our native butterflies by providing them with a nice home and a good food source. By building a butterfly house, you can have some family fun and create a safe space for beautiful butterflies, then sit back and enjoy.

Butterflies in decline

Sadly, our native butterflies are under serious threat. Four butterfly species have become extinct over the past 150 years and 75% of British butterfly species are in decline due to habitat loss, increasing levels of pollution and changing weather patterns. As an indicator for biodiversity, the loss of butterflies highlights a wider issue in our natural world.

Close-up of brimstone butterfly

It’s more important than ever to make a space for butterflies within our gardens and green spaces.

By planting nectar-rich flowers such as buddleia, lavender, French marigold and Michaelmas daisy, or providing a butterfly house you are bound to attract butterflies into your garden.

Build your own butterfly house

A butterfly house is an enclosed wooden structure with narrow slits on the front, designed to mimic the splits in the bark of a tree. You’ll find that butterflies will use the house to shelter from bad weather and predators as well as for feeding and mating.

Making a butterfly house is easier than you think, especially with our step by step instructions. However, it is essential that children are fully supervised when making the butterfly house and that power tools are operated by an adult.

What you’ll need

  • Untreated wood e.g. pine (you can use scraps of wood that you have at home, or buy them from a local hardware store and ask for them to be cut to size)
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Electric jigsaw or handsaw
  • Protective gloves and goggles
  • Hammer and nails
  • Hand drill
  • Small tree branch /bark
  • Galvanised screws and screwdriver
  • Sandpaper

How to make your butterfly house

1. Using a tape measure, carefully draw out the pieces of the butterfly house onto the wood using the following dimensions:

  • Back – 670mm x 120mm
  • Front – 510mm x 120mm
  • Sides with slanted top edge – 555mm x 120mm (rear edge) 510mm x 120mm (front edge)
  • Roof – 160mm x 120mm
  • Base – 120mm x 110mm

2. Cut out the various pieces using an electric jigsaw or handsaw

3. Use the hammer and nails to pin the back of the house to the roof

4. Use the same tools to pin the roof onto the top edge of the sides of the house

5. Repeat for the bottom of the house

6. Draw six narrow slots onto the front piece of the house, approximately 10mm x 100mm

7. Drill holes at each end of the slits drawn in step six and cut out with a jigsaw or handsaw

8. Find a suitable branch/bark to fix inside the butterfly house for the butterflies to land on. Fix with some screws

9. Drill and countersink holes in the front piece of the house in order to attach it to the sides using galvanised screws. Sand any rough edges and your house is now complete and ready to go in the garden.

Location, location, location

Place your butterfly house in a sunny but sheltered spot so that it is protected from the wind. The house should be located approximately four to six feet above the ground and preferably near to nectar-rich flowers which will act as a good food source for visiting butterflies.

(Photo: L. Owen)

You can help to attract butterflies to your butterfly house by painting the outside of it with brightly coloured flowers (using non-toxic paint) or by adding a layer of bark to make it look more like a tree.

Alternatively, entice butterflies into the house using a sugar solution:

  1. Mix one part sugar with four parts water and bring to a boil. This will help dissolve the sugar completely
  2. Place a new sponge onto a small dish and pour on the sugar so it is about half full
  3. Place the dish with sponge in the butterfly house
  4. Check the solution daily to ensure it isn’t becoming mouldy
  5. Store any leftover sugar solution in the fridge

Find more hints and tips about attracting butterflies to your garden

Encouraging other wildlife into your garden

Once you’ve created a butterfly house, why stop there? You can open up your garden to other wildlife by incorporating log piles and leaf litter for hedgehogs.

Visit our shop to buy a hedgehog haus or put up a bee and bug biome to encourage bees, ladybirds and other insects