TOPEKA (KSNT) – Are you looking for tips on how to bring in hummingbirds and butterflies to your yard? If so, you’ll find the answers below.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) offers basic recommendations for altering your backyard into an oasis, like installing artificial feeders for hummingbirds and planting various flowering plants to bring in butterflies.

Attracting Hummingbirds

These tiny birds are among the smallest in the world, according to the KDWP. With 319 species living in North and South America, 15 are found in the U.S. with only one regularly appearing in Kansas: Ruby-throated hummingbirds. These birds can be found in the wild nesting along streams and woodland parks with most of their numbers located in the eastern half of the state. They are occasionally mistaken for an insect that nearly mimics their looks and behaviors.

Feeders are typically used to bring in hummingbirds if you don’t have flowers present in your yard, according to the KDWP. If your flowers haven’t bloomed yet, a feeder can be a great way to start attracting hummingbirds.

The KDWP recommends placing feeders in semi-protected areas where rain will not dilute the nectar mixture in the end of the tube. Feeders should also be placed so as to avoid direct sunlight as heat can lead to the nectar expanding or increasing bacterial growth.

To keep ants off the feeder, the KDWP says you should moisten the hanging wire with salad oil. Using bee guards can prevents bees from using the feeders as large clusters of bees prevent hummingbirds from accessing the feeders.

As for the nectar in the feeder, the KDWP recommends using either instant nectar preparation found at nurseries and other retailers or prepare your own nectar with one part sugar to four parts boiled water. You do not need to add red food coloring.

There are also several plants that attract hummingbirds if you want to keep things natural:

  • Annuals
    • Petunia
    • Lady in Red Salvia (Scarlet Sage)
    • Traditional Red Salvia
  • Perennials
    • Aquilegia
    • Digitalis
    • Phlox
    • Agastache
  • Bulbs
    • Cannas
  • Shrubs
    • Abelia
    • Mimosa
    • Rose of Sharon
    • Weigela
  • Trees
    • Honeysuckle
  • Vines
    • Trumpet Honeysuckle
    • Cardinal Climber

Attracting Butterflies

Whether you have an entire backyard to work with or just a window box, the KDWP says you can take action to bring more butterflies closer to home. If you don’t have much space to work with, you can try adding plants such as zinnias, marigolds and/or daisies in a window box or small flower garden near your patio. Adding a pan of water can attract butterflies as long as nectar sources are close by. Melon rinds can also be used to attract butterflies.

If you have a garden, the KDWP says you can add a few more flower species to it and add some members of the parsley family to give butterfly caterpillars more food sources. Both Hackberry and fruit trees will bring in butterflies like buckeyes and wood nymphs.

If you have a larger space to work with, you can start by adding numerous small plots of various species of annuals and perennial flowers that will attract several different strands of butterflies nearly anywhere in Kansas, according to the KDWP.

The KDWP say wild prairie plants such as forbs and grasses along with a pool can help to enhance your garden’s ability to bring in more butterflies.

The KDWP says you should reduce your use of pesticides around your home and garden if you’re planning to bring in butterflies. Consider implementing a wide variety of plants and organic gardening techniques to reduce pest and disease issues.

The KDWP recommends that you place your butterfly garden and plants in sunny spots. Both butterflies and plants need plenty of sun and it should be expected to see fewer butterflies around on cloudy and/or windy days. You may also need to shield your garden from the wind.

Here is a list of plants butterflies like to feed on:

  • Wildflowers
    • Asters
    • Bergamont
    • Horsemint
    • Black-eyed Susan
    • Blazing Star
    • Boneset
    • Brown-eyed Susan
    • Butterfly Bush
    • Common Daylily
    • Tickseed Sunflower
    • Western Wallflower
    • Showy Partridge Pea
    • Milkweeds
      • Butterfly Milkweed
      • Swamp Milkweed
    • New Jersey Tea
    • Phlox
    • Rose Verbena
    • Meadowsweet
    • Spearmint
    • Coneflowers
    • Daisies
      • Ox-eyed Daisy
  • Wilder Species
    • Common Milkweed
    • Goldenrods
    • Joe-Pye Weed
    • Dogbanes
    • Ironweed
    • Nettles and Thistles
  • Cultivated Flowers
    • Aubretia
    • Calendula
    • Red Clover
    • Chrysanthemums
    • Thyme
    • Yarrow
    • Marigolds
    • Pink Garden Phlox
    • Sedum Spectabile
    • Golden Alyssum
    • Honesty
    • Hyssop
  • Trees, shrubs and vines
    • Black Haw
    • Blueberries
    • Farkelberries
    • Blue Spiraea
    • Buckeye
    • Bush Honeysuckle
    • Butterfly Bush
    • Clematis
    • Honeysuckle
    • Crabapple
    • Gooseberry
    • Wild Plum
    • Hawthorn
    • Lilac
    • Pear
    • Huckleberries
    • Privet
    • Redbud
    • Smooth Sumac
    • Spice Bush
    • Spiraea
    • Viburnum
    • Dewberry
    • Blackberry
    • Fragrant Sumac
    • European Cranberry Bush

The KDWP also recommends these species for feeding butterfly caterpillars:

  • Cherries and Plums
  • Dogbanes
  • False Indigo
  • Pea
  • Snapdragons
  • Toadflax
  • Lead Plant
  • Spice Bush
  • Thistles
  • Virginia Snakeroot
  • Violets
  • Willows
    • Black Willow
    • Pussywillow
  • Prairie Clover
  • Sassafras
  • Sennas
  • Partridge
  • Hackberry
  • False Loosestrife
  • Milkweeds
  • Nettles
  • Parsleys
    • Fennel
    • Carrot
    • Dill
    • Parsley
    • Parsnip
  • Pawpaw
  • Plantains
  • Gerardias