Our native butterflies are under serious threat. Habitat loss, increasing levels of pollution and changing weather patterns have had a huge impact on our native species. That's why it's more important than ever to support them in our gardens and green spaces.

You can do your bit for local butterflies by making our simple butterfly home. This one is an enclosed wooden structure with narrow slits in the front which mimic the splits in the bark of a tree.

Butterflies will use the house to shelter from bad weather and predators, as well as for feeding if you leave some food out for them.

What you'll need

    • Six pieces of untreated wood (any thickness up to about 20mm) cut to these dimensions:
      Back - 670mm x 120mm
      Front - 510mm x 120mm
      Sides with slanted top edges - 555mm x 120mm (rear edge) and 510mm x 120mm (front edge)
      Roof - 160mm x 120mm
      Base - 120mm x 120mm
    • A ruler or measuring tape
    • An electric jigsaw or handsaw
    • Protective gloves and goggles
    • A hammer and nails
    • A hand drill
    • A small tree branch or piece of bark
    • A small hinge
    • Galvanised screws and a screwdriver
    • Sandpaper.
Top tip

Make sure children are fully supervised and power tools are operated by an adult.

How to make a butterfly house

  1. Using a tape measure, carefully draw out the pieces of the butterfly house onto the wood and cut them out using a saw. Make sure you smooth down the edges with the sandpaper.
  2. Draw six narrow slots onto the front piece of the house, approximately 10mm x 100mm.
  3. Drill holes at each end of the slits and cut them out with your saw. Fold the sandpaper in half and use it to smooth down the inside of the slits.
  4. Find a suitable branch or piece of bark to fix inside the house for the butterflies to land on. Fix it to the back or side panels with some screws.
  5. Attach the roof piece to the top of the back panel using the hinge. Once complete, you can open and close the roof to clean or adjust the inside of the butterfly house, and add sugar water if you want.
  6. Use the hammer and nails to pin the four side panels and base together. 
  7. Sand down any rough edges and your butterfly house is now complete and ready to go in the garden.

How to attract butterflies to your butterfly house

Place your butterfly house in a sunny but sheltered spot so that it is protected from the wind. It should be around four to six feet above the ground and near nectar-rich flowers which will act as a good food source for visiting butterflies.

You can help to attract butterflies to your butterfly house by using non-toxic paint to decorate the box with brightly coloured flowers or by adding a layer of bark to the front to make it look a bit more like a tree.

You can also entice butterflies into the house with a sugar solution:

  1. Mix one part sugar with four parts water and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar completely. Children will need adult supervision.
  2. Place a new sponge onto a small dish and pour on the sugar liquid so it is about half full.
  3. Leave the dish and sponge in the butterfly house.
  4. Check the solution daily to make sure it isn't mouldy and change it after a week.

Identify butterflies and other wildlife in your garden