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Blomfild's Beauty - Smyrna blomfildia

Blomfild's Beauty - Smyrna blomfildia
World Birding Center HQ at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Hidalgo County, Texas, USA
This species is normally extremely rare in the US, but was seen at least five times at Bentsen-RGV State Park between December 3 2005 and January 9 2006. Another was seen at Frontera Audubon Society's nature preserve in Weslaco, TX on December 2, and yet another in a garden at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen TX in mid-November. It has never been found breeding in the US, but such a collection of observations is awfully suspicious...

What a beauty!!!
Nice find and great picture.

Thanks but...
I cannot take credit for this find; I believe this was the bug found by David Dauphin on December 3. It stuck around for a few days. I found a few later in the winter, but only by putting out butterfly bait in the spot where David had attracted the first one.

Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
World Birding Center
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
956-584-9156 x 236

What do you use
for butterfly bait?

bait recipe
I have heard a number of recipes bandied about. The four basic ingredients are overripe fruit, brown sugar, yeast, and beer. As Herschel mentions, Guinness or other dark beers work best. Some people use molasses or honey instead of, or in addition to, the brown sugar. As for the fruit, Herschel is again correct that bananas work best, but some folks have mentioned getting good results by adding watermelon, mango, papaya, grapes, plums, or assorted others to the mix; sweet, high-sugar fruits tend to attract the most butterflies.

One ratio I have heard suggested by a certain south Texas butterfly-chaser is 1 bottle of beer, 1 pound of sugar, and several pounds of bananas. He then leaves it in the garage to ferment for some time, being careful to periodically vent the gas before the pressure builds up too high and explodes the container. He suggests that the final product should be dark brown.

You can also attract butterflies to just the fruit alone, especially watermelon and banana, but the bait seems to work better.

Down here we get quite a dazzling variety of butterflies, moths, and beetles coming to the bait: Malachite, Blue Wave, Crackers, etc. Further north there is less variety but you still might attract Question Mark, various species of Comma, Red-spotted Purple, and Red Admiral. These species generally come only to bait and not to flowers.

Good luck!

Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
World Birding Center
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
956-584-9156 x 236

baiting for butterflies and beetles
Hi Josh, I need your advice. I want to include some bait recipes in a children's book, but I don't want to trap and kill the butterflies or beetles that stop by for a drink. Would it work if I topped the bait bucket with nylon screening or something that would save specimens yet still allow them to feed? Also, must I use beer, which some parents may frown on!

Bait feeders
Hi Sharon,

We do not even use buckets for feeding down here. The butterfly featured on this page was on a cutoff stump of a tree limb. Some places in the LRGV create inexpensive butterfly feeders by taking a tree limb, perhaps 2 feet long and 6 inches thick, cutting a shallow groove on one side to hold the bait, then rigging it to hang (groovy side up) with a wire and a couple of wood screws with "eyes". But I now use an old broken shovel-head at "Josh's Diner", and we bait on tree stumps, logs, and fence posts elsewhere; pretty much any horizontal surface works, as long as it is an object you do not mind covering with sticky, smelly brown goop...

You do not need to use beer or other alcohol. It does help - apparently because the butterflies use the smell of fermentation as a cue to locate ripe fruit in the forest - but I know one guy in central Texas who attracts some spectacular butterflies, moths, beetles, and other insects using just straight bananas, no other additives. Granted, he often uses several pounds of bananas per day, while I probably use less than one. I have heard that it helps for the bananas to be overripe, the blacker the better. Some people have success with other sweet, soft fruit like watermelon, mango, or papaya.

If you do give the beer-yeast-sugar recipe, worth adding warnings about storage. If they store in a tightly sealed container, the fermentation will build up gas pressure, and the container may burst, or when opened might pop suddenly and splatter bait around the room. The contents also expand using this recipe. The container should not be filled all the way to the top, leaving some room for expansion, and the lid left slightly loose or perforated to let the gas escape. I mix small batches, less than a gallon at a time, and keep them in the fridge, but people doing more massive baiting efforts usually keep the bait in a garage or somewhere else that can take the mess and smell.

Have fun; let us know when your book comes out!


Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
World Birding Center
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
956-584-9156 x 236

Thanks for both recipes -
I'll have to give that a try.

Guiness beer and bananas works well.

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