If you’re looking for how to attract butterflies into your garden, you may have heard that building a butterfly house and growing bright, open flowers will work wonders. However, there is a new (more unconventional) way to create a garden for pollinators – and it involves the contents of your liquor cabinet.  According to Sean McMenemy, a garden wildlife expert and director at Ark Wildlife (opens in new tab), butterflies are attracted to a ‘specialty’ cocktail made from beer – and in some cases, rum – if you want to elevate the drink further. Here’s what the process involves. 

How to make a butterfly cocktail

According to Sean, the simplest recipe involves mashing up an over-ripe banana and mixing in brown sugar and some stale beer. ‘To take this to a professional level, you can experiment by adding dark rum and/or soy sauce,’ he says. To improve the cocktail further, the expert recommends leaving the whole concoction to ferment for a few weeks (or months, where possible) before use. If you’d prefer to create an alcohol-free version, you can create a simple sugar solution –made from one part sugar and four parts water that is brought to a boil.  ‘While you’re counting butterflies, you’re sure to see some curious behavior from them. For example, butterflies actually seek out fermented fruit and drinks, resting up once they’ve had their fill,’ Sean says. He adds that they drink (partly) to boost their spermatophores, which are nuptial gifts for females. They often like to add nutrient-rich mud or sometimes even animal dung.  If you’re looking for similar wildlife garden ideas, the expert also urges you to leave out rotting veg, overripe fruit or special butterfly food that will attract the creature to your exteriors. It’s also a good idea to leave any fallen fruit you don’t want to consume underneath your tree for the creature to enjoy.  Additionally,  you can attract butterflies to your garden by knowing how to make a bug hotel – and planting bright, fragrant, and nectar-rich flowers. They are especially attracted to buddleja shrubs (aka the butterfly bush).