Insect bait – an experiment in fermentation

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Although there are some blooms in the garden, I haven’t been seeing many butterflies and I decided to try an experiment. I made bait using a ripe banana, brown sugar, molasses, beer, and overly-ripe peaches, and let it ferment. I put some bait in a hummingbird feeder and more on a strip of terrycloth, and hung them in the backyard.

Fermented insect feeders

It’s working, and I’m pleased to finally see some butterflies. Visitors include this Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton).

Asterocampa clyton butterfly

I’ve also seen Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta).

Additional visitors have included Question Marks (Polygonia interrogationis) and Eastern Commas (Polygonia comma). Watermelon and other fruit that I put out earlier this summer mainly attracted ants. So far I’ve had no ants on the fermented bait, and it’s attracting an interesting variety of visitors. Stay tuned for more about this experiment in another post.

8 thoughts on “Insect bait – an experiment in fermentation”

  1. I certainly don’t have time to do all that to attract butterflies and I don’t know how to name any except the monarch; however, I did have a yellow and black one on a rose. I cut the rose next to it and the butterfly never moved! They definitely are interesting to watch and I admire your good work.

    1. Evelyn, yes, it does take time. I accept that as a part of my interest in knowing more about what’s happening in the backyard. Glad you noticed the butterfly and that it allowed you to get close.

  2. Hi Betty, I’m glad that that concoction is working for you. I’ll have to tell Paul – he’ll be proud to hear that you’re attempting to adjust the attitude of your butterflies! 🙂

    1. Keli, only you would think of the connection between insect fermenentation bait and our daily attitude adjustment ritual. I think you’re right on target and I love it!

  3. Beer? Fermented mash? I do hope these beautiful young creatures are of leagal age lest you be hauled into court for supplying minors with what sounds like a highly intoxicating feast 🙂 But, on a serious note, did you create “The Recipe” (what the two elderly sisters – neighbors of the Walton’s in
    that wonderful TV series – called their Daddy’s specialty) or find it elsewhere?

    1. I appreciate your concern, Beth. But I haven’t seen any sign of intoxicated insects yet. 🙂 As to the recipe, I’ve seen several different versions of a similar concoction. They usually call for flat beer or possibly a bit of yeast, fruit – very ripe or rotten seems preferred, plus brown sugar and molasses and then allowing the mixture to set awhile. I didn’t follow any particular recipe, choosing instead to use what I had and see what would happen.

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