Irvine’s butterfly house is open for its third season!
The house will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 10am – 3pm. Visitors can enjoy learning about butterfly species, behaviors, host plants, and nectar plants while native butterflies flutter around.
While the house may not look different on the surface, many changes have been implemented within! This year marks the first attempt at running the butterfly house as a solely “Catch-And-Release” house. This means that all of the butterflies you will see in the house have been caught locally or reared from eggs/caterpillars. With this change comes new responsibilities, but also new opportunities! Catching butterflies is of course weather dependent – when it’s rainy, the butterflies hunker down out of sight. Thus, some weeks the house may be more sparse than others. If you are having a hard time finding any butterflies while visiting the house, ask one of the lovely docents to point them out for you…or they may be able to find you some tiny caterpillars to look at as well! Collecting butterflies from the wild also means providing them with ample nectar flowers to feed from, along with specific host plants for females to lay their eggs on. Many butterflies have specific host plants that they use, thus we will be focusing on a select few butterflies to keep and rear in the house. Some species include, Swallowtails (Black and Spicebush), Cabbage Whites, Fritillaries, Skippers, and of course Monarchs.
Even though the season is still early, we have had some success with breeding and rearing. Our cabbage plants are filled with Cabbage White and Clouded Sulphur caterpillars; our Cecropia caterpillars are growing larger with each passing day; and our summer campers have been eagerly searching for Monarch caterpillars while in the meadow! We are hoping to soon expand to having Spicebush Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, and Silver Spotted Skipper caterpillars thanks to our friends at Ladew Gardens.
While you visit, be sure to pick up a Native Plant Nursery Brochure and a Butterfly Host and Nectar Plant Brochure to help create your own butterfly garden at your house or school!