Let's Build a Butterfly House

To Attract Butterflies
Or for a Pretty Summer Decoration Idea

You can build a butterfly house using only one very inexpensive cedar fence slat. We paid less than $3.00 at Home Depot for the fence slat that we used our butterfly house.



It's a great family project as it is very easy to build and decorate and your kids will have fun helping. And, you get to attract more butterflies to your yard.

We not only show you how to build the butterfly house but also how to attract care for your butterfly house.

beautiful butterfly on flower from pixabay
We have butterfly house ideas for your porch and yard
When making a butterfly house, please avoid using pressure treated lumber as it contains a chemical that will kill butterflies.

beautiful butterfly on flower from pixabay
Majestic butterfly
I've used cedar fence slats for lots of projects because of their low cost. Sanded, cedar fence slats can be used for all kinds of outdoor projects.

They are usually rough cut lumber and thus are not necessarily the straightest boards. However, take care in choosing one that has minimal warpage if possible.

I find it almost impossible to find a perfectly straight cedar fence slat; however, a little warpage won't defeat you.

We will show you how to make this same butterfly house from one board with minimal cutting and only a few tools. In addition, we'll also show you how to make your own butterflies with which to decorate your butterfly house or as summer decorations on your porch!

cedar butterfly house on front steps
You can build a butterfly house to add to your porch landscaping

What You Need to Build a Butterfly House

    1 Cedar Fence Slat (usually 5 1/2 inches by 6 feet)

    Saw (Table, Circular, Jig, or Hand Saw)

    Finishing Nails, Small Exterior Screws, or Pneumatic Nailer

    Exterior Wood Glue (optional)

    Measuring Tape


    Straight Edge

    Drill And 3/8 bit and a smaller bit for pre-drilling holes if using nails or screws

    Sander (optional)

    Paint or Stain - your choice (optional)

Cut List: Build a Butterfly House

    Cut the 6 foot fence slat into the following

    2 @ 14 inches (front and back)

    2 @ 14 x 3 1/4 inches wide (sides)

    1 @ 6 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches (top)

    1 @ 3 3/8 x 3 3/4 inches (bottom)

    2 @ 2 1/2 x 3/4 inches (bottom holder)



Let's Build a Butterfly House

Before you begin cutting the fence slat, you may want to sand one side of the board although I prefer to sand as a final step in the process.

STEP 1: Cut the fence slat to the sizes listed above. You will notice you will have to rip cut (cut length wise) the two sides to the proper width.

You have the option of using full width; however, your butterfly house will have more depth than you'll need. I seriously doubt the butterflies will mind!

cedar fence slat cut into pieces for butterfly house
Inexpensive butterfly house to add to your porch landscaping

Mark and cut the slots. Slots are 3/8 wide x 4 inches long (I have seen plans where the slots are 1/2 inches wide - must be for some pretty sizable butterflies. I cut four slots but you can add more if you like.

My slots are located 2 1/2 inches from the top and bottom and 1 1/2 inches from the sides.

cedar fence slat marked for slots for butterfly house
Mark beginning and ending slot points
Mark your slots and cut a 3/8 inch hole at the top and bottom of each slot. Next, mark the sides and use a jig saw to cut out the slots.

cedar fence slat marked for width of slots for butterfly house
Mark edges of slots

using jig saw to cut slots for butterfly house
Jigsaw used to cut slots

OPTIONAL: If you do not have a jig saw, you can drill out the entire length of each slot and use a wood chisel or flat screwdriver to clean out the slots.

butterfly house slots cut out
Butterfly house slots cut out

Assemble the Butterfly House. When assembling the butterfly house, curved boards if you have any, should face inward. We recommend using exterior wood glue when assembling your butterfly house.

A: Attach a bottom holder to one end of a side panel. Repeat with the other side panel.

attaching bottom holders to sides of butterfly house
Attach bottom holders to sides
B: Attach the sides to the back using wood glue and screws or nails. Pre-drill holes so as not to split the wood.

attaching sides to back of butterfly house
Attach sides to back
C: Use the same process to attach the front and top to the butterfly house. Insert the bottom into the end of the butterfly house.

bottom panel inserted into butterfly house
Bottom panel inserted in butterfly house for easy cleaning
D. Sand, paint or stain your butterfly house.

You can opt to paint or stain your butterfly house or leave it to weather naturally.

bottom panel inserted into butterfly house
Butterfly house ready for finishing (or leave natural)

painted butterfly porch decorations
Use Your Butterfly House as a Porch Decoration
This butterfly house we are using only as a decoration. Mary painted flowers on it and we covered the holes from the inside.

Did you notice the beautiful butterfly wall art in the picture above?

Build a Butterfly House - Enhanced Version

I want to show you how you can use the same wood, i.e., a cedar fence slat, and turn it into a most appealing butterfly house.

stained cedar Butterfly House
Planed and stained butterfly house
Use the same procedures as written above; however, cut the top piece at 10 inches long. It will be cut again to actual size later in the process.

After cutting the fence slat into it's designated pieces, plane the boards flat. I am fortunate to have both a stand alone planer and a portable one; however, you can use a sander and 60 grit sandpaper to achieve a similar result.

You will soon see just how beautiful the fence slat can become once you sand or plane below the surface.

The next step is to cut the back, front, and sides at 30 degree angles as shown in the photos below to accept a gable roof.

Cut the back and front at 30 degrees as shown.

I marked the center of the boards and set my saw at 30 degrees.

Cutting Back And Front of Butterfly House At 30 Degrees
Cutting back and front of butterfly house at 30 degrees
Cut the side tops at 30 degrees as shown.

Cutting Back And Front of Butterfly House At 30 Degrees
Cutting sides of butterfly house at 30 degrees
Assemble the butterfly house as described above.

Cut the top board in half. Then determine the size (or length) of the roof. Cut an opposite 30 degree angle on each end of the top pieces.

Attach top pieces to the butterfly house.

Display Your Butterfly House

Beautiful butterfly house graces the porch landscaping

Your butterfly house should be ready for display. We placed ours in our front porch landscaping for use by butterflies and as a decorative addition to add interest to our flower garden.

Optimally, you'll want to place your butterfly in a spot that gets full sun but is also somewhat protected from the wind. You'll also want to position it away from bird feeders as your butterflies my become a tasty meal!

Butterflies prefer very stable houses; placing on a stable post about 3 feet from the ground will definitely help.

Lastly, placing it near butterfly loving plants makes it more than likely to draw the attention of these beautiful creatures.

We also used on our porch for decorative purposes to enhance our summer butterfly decor. So as not to entice bees or wasps from making it their home we blocked off the slots with black paper.

Video: Great Information from a Butterfly Expert

Mary and I encourage you to watch this short video:

Barbara Ann Dewitt,a national wildlife steward

Butterfly Houses and Care

Butterfly on beautiful lantana plant
Butterflies love colorful Lantana flowers
Butterfly houses are very easy to maintain.

Do not paint the inside of your butterfly house as they prefer natural wood.

Periodically check and remove any unwanted materials.

You may want to repaint or re-stain your butterfly house annually.

However, feel free to paint or decorate the outside to your heart's content.

Attract More Butterflies

You can attract butterflies by planting foliage they like.

beautiful butterfly from pixabay
Amazing beauty courtesy of pixabay.com
Butterflies are usually attracted to rather bright colors like oranges, purples, reds, yellows, oranges, and pinks. Try to find foliage with flat-topped flowers or those with flowering tubes.

If you've ever noticed they like to rest in full sun, so placing objects like flat rocks, in sunny areas will help. They also prefer damp sandy or even muddy areas where they can obtain water and minerals.

Placing shallow dishes with water (you can use a sponge soaked in clear hummingbird nectar) and saucers with sand should achieve good results.

Most importantly, try to grow native plans. Here's an excellent source to get you started: Butterfly Plant List from Backyard Boss

Beautiful butterfly enjoys these lovely purple flowers
Plant colorful flowers that butterflies love

Do You Like These Summer Decorating Ideas Too?

From Butterflies to Bumble Bees

Beautiful butterfly enjoys these lovely purple flowers

If you love butterflies, we bet you will also love our bumble bee porch and DIY garden ornaments.

Certainly Summer on This Porch

Beautiful butterfly enjoys these lovely purple flowers

This summer porch of ours is one of our favorites.


We hope you enjoyed learning how to build a butterfly house here with us!

/ / / Build a Butterfly House



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