Where Do Butterflies Live

Swallowtail butterfly.

Have you ever wondered where do butterflies live? Here you'll learn where you can find many types of butterflies and how to attract them to live in your area with a butterfly habitat.

Where Do Butterflies Live Near You?

Butterflies are as diverse as their many colors. Each species likes different things to eat and desire different living accommodations. From milkweed to mud puddles, you'll find butterflies living in many different areas around your home.

Food that Attracts Butterfly Caterpillars

You're likely to find butterflies living near their favorite food sources. Caterpillars feed off certain plants and fruits before they turn into beautiful butterflies. Therefore, the best way to find out where butterflies live is to learn to identify them, and what they like to eat, in their caterpillar stage.

The following plants and trees attract butterfly caterpillars to live around them. The caterpillars can be found living and eating on the branches and leaves of these plants and trees. Perhaps some of these grow in the area where you live:

  • Alder
  • Anise
  • Aspen
  • Apple
  • Carrot
  • Cherry
  • Clover
  • Cottonwood
  • Fennel
  • Hollyhocks
  • Hops
  • Lilac
  • Milkweed
  • Nettle
  • Plantain
  • Plum
  • Sassafras
  • Snapdragons
  • Sunflowers
  • Verbena
  • Violets
  • Willow

Butterflies Love Nectar and Sap

Butterflies love to sip nectar and tree sap. Oftentimes, the food that a caterpillar eats will be different than what a butterfly eats. These favorite plants are where you will find butterflies living. Favorite plants for butterflies to live around include the following:

  • Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Buckwheat
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Carrot
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clover
  • Coreopsis
  • Cosmos
  • Daisy
  • Daylily
  • Firebush
  • Fleabane
  • Hollyhock
  • Honeysuckle
  • Impatients
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Lavender
  • Lilac
  • Marigold
  • Mint
  • Mustard
  • Parsley
  • Phlox
  • Queen Anne's Lace
  • Sumac
  • Sunflower
  • Thistle
  • Verbena
  • Violet
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnia

Butterflies can be found on many of these plants hanging underneath the leaves or clinging to the branches.

Where Butterflies Sleep

Butterflies can be found on many of the plants they enjoy, and in some other unusual places. During wind and rainstorms, butterflies may need a sturdier place for shelter. At these times, butterflies prefer woody plants and butterfly houses, if available. Rocks, the undersides of leaves and the branches of shrubs are all places that butterflies use to seek refuge both from bad weather and birds that would like to eat them.


Butterflies can't drink like animals do; they need to use their proboscis to suck up fluids for energy and hydration. Butterflies cannot get what they need from a swimming pool or even a birdbath. Butterflies prefer to drink from puddles to get the water and hydration that they need.

If you want to attract butterflies to live near you, try the following:

  • Place a pie pan filled with sand on the ground and add water so that the water level remains slightly below the sand. You want to create a moist plate of sand- not a soaking wet one.
  • Set out cut fresh fruit or fruit that is "going bad" in a pan in the area in which you want to attract butterflies.
  • Butterflies will also be attracted to fresh manure. If you live in the country, gather a small amount from your animals or a local farmer and place it in the grass in an area where you want butterflies to live.

Butterflies will also suck moisture from carrion, but most people creating a butterfly habitat will not need (or want) to place dead animals near their homes if they plant a variety of plants butterflies like.

Create a Butterfly Habitat

Now that you know the answer to "Where do butterflies live," consider creating a butterfly habitat near your home. Depending upon the area available, you could create a beautiful garden that is both beautiful and attractive to butterflies from your area. All you need to remember is these four things:

  • Have host plants for caterpillars
  • Have host plants for butterflies
  • Provide shelter from rain and wind
  • Provide water for puddling

These four simple things will help you to attract butterflies to live in your outdoor habitat for years to come!


Where Do Butterflies Live