Butterfly Farming Articles
The Butterfly Boutique  

Making & Using a
Butterfly Trap

Nigel Venters

Why bother with a trap when you have a hand net? Because you catch species you’ll never have seen before! However there’s much more to trapping than just building a trap!

Materials needed to build your trap:

  • An 18 inch square bit of plywood for the base;
  • Some strong fence wire – enough to make two 12 inch diameter hoops;
  • A plastic bowl diameter approx 8 inches (Sits in hole);
  • A fret saw to cut a circular hole in the centre of the Plywood;
  • 4 wire netting curtain hooks;
  • 4 large paper clips;
  • Some curtain netting;
  • a tube of clear Silicone;
  • a ball of nylon string; and
  • a 2 once lead fishing weight.

Butterfly Trap - Nigel Venters

Larger traps are worth using in tropical conditions, but do make sure the height is around 4 times the diameter of the hoop.

It is vital that the base board is a few inches wider than the bottom of the hoop!

Cover the top with plastic to keep most of the rain off!


Much has been written about secret baits for traps or attracting butterflies. I have tried most of them…here are some options:

  • Rotting Banana, Mango, Pineapple
  • Rotting Meat or fish
  • Dung, preferably carnivores
  • Stale beer or wine

Some of the baits mentioned are extremely unpleasant and could present health hazards. I have never found a bait that is better than Banana, here’s how to make the best bait, it attracts both sexes!

My simple recipe:

Peel 2lbs of bananas and put in a bucket with a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of bakers yeast, cover with damp cloth and wait for two days. It will froth madly so don’t seal it!

Any beer you were considering adding…drink it while you wait!

Using your Trap

Now we know how to build a butterfly trap here are some ideas on how you use it. Full sunshine is ALWAYS the best place, try and use the edge of a forest track. In the garden choose a place out of the wind in full sunshine. Remember canopy species catapult your fishing weight high over a high branch and haul your trap up to the top.

Your country's most beautiful butterflies are always caught by trapping!

In the North you’ll get Red Admirals, Anglewings such as the Comma, Question Marks and Tortoiseshells. In the South you’ll also get Malachites and much more! Be careful with bait … never spill any on the board, many will just suck the juices and never go in. Lift the bottom of the trap up a few inches when you put your hand through the sleeve, this will stop escapees! Watch out for hornets and wasps inside the trap!

Never have more than an inch gap at the bottom of the trap, even the largest butterfly will drop it’s wings and go in! Just because you don’t catch first time, don’t give up, trapping can be seasonal!

Pulling power

Once you see the pulling power of the trap you’ll be amazed at all the butterflies you never knew existed flying in your area. Butterfly collectors in Australia and the Philippines are in for a real treat, there are many species in the tropics which never visit flowers and feed entirely from rotting fruit! Maybe these people already use traps?



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