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The art of luring butterflies August 4, 2014

Posted by stinawp in Uncategorized.
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Please note that what follows are not instructions on how to catch a butterfly. To do that, all you need is a butterfly net and the right flick of the wrist. Enticing a butterfly to voluntarily land on you requires more preparation and even more luck. I’m not an expert at this, but I think I have better luck than most.

1. Don’t chase the butterfly. Things that chase butterflies usually want to eat them, not admire and release them. The more still you can be, the better.

2. Offer it bait. Butterflies need three major types of nutrients: sugars, ions, and nitrogen. You can offer them sugar water or rotting fruit, although those are usually pretty common in the environment. Salt water (sweat) or wet earth are both sources of ions. Nitrogen is most easily supplied by urine (from mammals) or guano (from birds or reptiles). But since you should hold or wear your bait, I don’t know that I recommend using either as butterfly lures.

3. Cross your fingers and hope the right butterfly comes by. Not all butterfly species are attracted to all of these nutrient sources, and different species also seem to vary in skittishness. At Palo Verde, the easiest butterflies to lure are the malachite butterflies (Siproeta stelenes). They really like sweat and will land on you even if you aren’t perfectly still:

PV14 07-14-14 (12863) - CROP

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