Depending upon the species, different butterflies require specific types of food. If you plan to raise butterflies indoors, it is crucial to learn not only what temperature, light and moisture level the butterflies prefer, but also what specific plants they need for food. While some butterflies prefer to eat nectar from only one kind of flower, most butterflies will partake of sweet liquids and fruits if there is nothing else available.
Plant colorful, nectar-rich flowers in pots and place near windows in a dedicated butterfly room. Butterflies are attracted to flowers such as coneflowers, chrysanthemums, daisies, yarrow, sweet peas, lilacs, asters, lavender, blanket flowers, columbines, butterfly lilies, orchids and butterfly bushes.
Place colorful, shallow dishes at different elevations around the room. Lids to peanut butter jars are sometimes bright red or yellow, and the colors attract butterflies. For instance, one could be placed on a stool, another on a table and a third on a window sill. Fill each of these dishes half full of various flavors of Gatorade and fill one or two with fresh water.
In other shallow dishes, place a few slices of ripe (brown) banana. Put a different type of sliced fruit in a number of other dishes. Try fruits such as fresh melon, kiwi, plums, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, and oranges--any kind of fruit that is both sweet and juicy. Observe the butterflies to see which fruits they prefer, and replace the fruits with fresh slices every day since butterflies (and caterpillars) will not eat old or dry food.
Concoct a nectar by mixing honey or sugar, water, and fruit juice. Place it in a shallow dish and watch to see if the butterflies are attracted to it. If not, try another mixture. Change to fresh solutions daily to avoid fermentation.
Order artificial butterfly and moth foods from sites such as the Educational Science Online Science and Nature Store. Some butterflies may prefer this artificial food to fresh fruits or Gatorade.
Keep a wide variety of foods available for your butterflies.
Change foods and wash containers thoroughly to keep your butterflies healthy.