Make Your Own Butterfly House
Butterflies like the protection of dark, sheltered areas—whether it’s for months at a time (during long, cold winters), or for just a few moments (when dodging hungry predators). Here’s a simple refuge you can build for them for under $20. Check out these 12 ways to prepare for your spring garden while it’s still cold.
Use smooth or rough-sawn cedar; it’s rot-resistant and weathers to a mellow gray. For durability, assemble the house using moisture-proof glue and galvanized nails. Make sure to hinge and latch one side so you can insert and maintain the long twigs and tree bark the butterflies roost on (Figure A, in project information below).
A jigsaw, drill and common hand tools are all you need, although a table saw (to cut angles and the wood to size) speeds up the work greatly.
To attract butterflies, locate the house in an area with lots of flowering plants, and mount it 2 to 3 ft. off the ground. Try these pretty and easy flower combos.
Build the Butterfly House
Cut the parts to the sizes and angles listed in the Cutting list in project information below, and shown in the photos.
Lay out the entry slots on the front (Figure A), drill the ends with a 3/8-in.-dia. bit, then cut the slots the rest of the way with a jigsaw (Photo with step 1). Smooth the sides of the slots with sandpaper.
Use a 7/8-in. spade bit to drill the holes for the support pipe in the bottom, and one of the pipe stops.
Glue and nail the back to the side. Next, glue and clamp the two support pipe stops together, then glue and clamp them to the back. Glue and nail the bottom to the assembled back and side.
Glue and nail the false front roof pieces to the front, then glue and nail the front in place, and attach the roof boards. Use the door as a spacer between the front and back when you attach the roof.
Trim the door, if necessary, so it fits loosely between the front and back. Align the door, and hammer in the two hinge pivot nails (Photo with step 2).
Use two pliers to bend a nail in half. Drill a pilot hole, then tap in this latch.
Insert the support pipe through the bottom and into the pipe stop. Drill pilot holes for the pipe strap screws, attach the strap (Photo with step 3), then loosen it and remove the support pipe.
Determine the best location and height for the house (keep it low). Hammer the pipe into the ground (protect the end of the pipe with a scrap piece of wood), then slide the house on the pipe, tighten the pipe strap, and watch for your first fluttering houseguests.
Lay Out and Cut the Entry Slots
Create the entry slots. Drill 3/8-in. holes for the top and bottom of each slot, then connect the holes using a jigsaw.
Assemble the House
Assemble the butterfly house. Use straight nails for the door hinges and a bent one for the latch. (Note: Here the door is open so you can see the inside, but it’s easier to align everything with the door closed.)
Attach the Support Pipe
Loosely screw the pipe strap to the back, using the support pipe as a guide. Remove the pipe, pound it into the ground, then permanently tighten the strap around the pipe to prevent the butterfly house from spinning.
Figure A: Butterfly House
- One, 1×6 x 10’ cedar
- 25, 4d galvanized casing nails
- One, 3/4’’ dia. type L copper pipe*
- One, 3/4’’ copper pipe strap*
- Two, No. 8 x 1/2’’ pan head screws
- Titebond II moisture-proof glue, small bottle
*Available at home centers
Key | Pcs. | Size & description
A | 2 | 3/4’’ x 5’’ x 24’’ cedar (front and back)
B | 2 | 3/4’’ x 5’’ x 6-1/4’’ cedar (roof boards)
C | 2 | 3/4’’ x 3-3/4’’ x 22-1/4’’ cedar (side and door)
D | 1 | 3/4’’ x 3-3/4’’ x 3-1/2’’ cedar (bottom)
E | 2 | 3/4’’ x 1-1/4’’ x 3-1/2’’ cedar (support pipe stop)
F | 2 | 1/2’’ x 3/4’’ x 3-1/2’’ cedar (false front roof)