Friday, April 16, 2021

Butterflies!

I've seen butterflies flitting through my garden now and then over the last several weeks but the butterflies featured in this post weren't photographed in my garden; they're residents of the new butterfly pavilion at South Coast Botanic Garden (SCBG) six miles away.  I visited it for the first time earlier this week after making a reservation a couple of weeks ago.

I neglected to take a photo of the pavilion structure from the outside but I photographed the exterior area, planted up to attract butterflies.  Those of you who've read prior posts on my visits to SCBG may be familiar with the raised beds, which were formerly planted with dahlias.


I almost managed to get these photos of the two sides of the garden area lined up!

The plants used throughout the raised beds included Achillea, Calendula, Dianthus, Gaillardia, and, regrettably, tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).  You can read the Xerces Society's opinion on tropical milkweek here.  The SCBG volunteer I spoke with told me that it was used mainly because it was readily available in the period prior to the pavilion's opening.  They're discussing it with visitors as a "teachable moment."  Nevertheless, I hope they'll replace it with native milkweed when those plants become more available.

This display outside the pavilion shows the pupae of a variety of caterpillars on their way to transforming into butterflies

The interior of the pavilion is filled with plants to attract butterflies too.  Some of the plant choices surprised me but SCBG worked with Spineless Wonders, a company specializing in creating butterfly houses, which I assume advised them on which plants would serve the needs of the butterflies.


View from the entrance area looking toward the exit:  I was surprised to see Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' included in the planting scheme but, according to online sources, the plant's insignificant flowers are attractive to butterflies

Two of the plants shown in this photograph, Calliandra haematocephala and Phlomis fruticosa, featured prominently in the planting scheme

Gaillardia (aka blanket flower) and Cyperus papyrus were also used extensively.  I couldn't find much of anything on the association between Papyrus and butterflies other than one statement that adult butterflies are attracted to it.

The orange succulent Kalanchoe also surprised me but I understand that butterflies like "high frequency" colors like yellow and orange and short flower tubes.  Butterfly bushes (Buddleia) and tree mallows (Lavatera) also featured in the planting scheme.


My reservation was early in the day and the weather was cool and damp so the butterflies weren't very active.  A new supply of tropical butterflies had just arrived to succeed the painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) that have occupied the pavilion since it opened on April 1st so the new butterflies were probably still settling in.  The volunteers that staff the pavilion were just becoming acquainted with the new arrivals.  I used the common names they provided to me, the names posted on the pupae exhibit, and online searches to identify those I photographed but I can't guarantee my accuracy.


Many of the butterflies were resting with their wings folded, hiding the more colorful side of their wings, presumably to conserve energy.  This is the giant owl butterfly (Caligo telemonius atreus).

I wouldn't have associated these two butterflies but, in trying to identify them online, I learned that the male and female forms of the blue-frosted banner butterfly (Catonephele numilia) are very different.  The male is on the left and the female on the right.

I first photographed this gray cracker butterfly (Hamadryas februa) on the leg of another visitor's pants (left).  A short time later, the butterfly took off and landed on my blue jeans (right).  It was much harder for me to photograph there.  I moved carefully to ensure I didn't injure him/her in any way.

This is one of a group of butterflies commonly known as the postman.  This particular variety is classified as Heliconius erato.  The volunteers are permitted to carry butterflies on "lollipops" (pieces of fruit on sticks) so that visitors can see them close up.  Visitors are asked not to touch them.  The one on the right settled on a fountain inside the enclosure.

This blue morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides) is known for its shimmering cobalt blue wings but those in the enclosure during my visit kept their wings tightly folded; however, in the photo on the right, you can make out a little of that bright blue color on the upper edge of the butterfly's back wing

This is the giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), which is common in North America

This is one of the remaining painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) released in the pavilion when it first opened.  They have a life span of just two weeks.  The one of the right has settled on one of the feeding stations provided for the butterflies within the enclosure.

I've no idea of the identity of this butterfly.  My best guess is that it's one of the Adelpha butterflies commonly known as sister butterflies.  My brother identified this butterfly as Siproeta epaphus.  Thanks Eric!

I got nowhere trying to identify this butterfly. This is also Siproeta epaphus aka a rusty-tipped page.  It's resting upside down with its wings folded here.

There were signs to provide information and guide visitors as they explored the pavilion and the connected area.  I photographed only a few.



The exhibit runs through the end of July.  New butterflies will be added in stages.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party



30 comments:

  1. So glad you shared these pictures, Kris. Reminds me of seeing butterflies with you at the D.C. Fling.

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    1. I remember how much I enjoyed that visit to the butterfly enclosure at Brookside Gardens, Susie. My recollection is that it was larger than the one at SCBG but I just looked up my post from July 2017 and discovered that I photographed the same number of butterflies. There was even some overlap in terms of the species.

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  2. If only we could attract and keep butterflies like that in our gardens!

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    1. Some people are more successful with butterflies than others. Having a range of plants, including those that support caterpillars, helps a lot. With the exception of the painted ladies and the giant swallowtail, those currently in SCBG's pavilion are tropical butterflies so they probably wouldn't be happy here.

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  3. This looks like a fun visit, if only it was closer to (my) home. I must say, the first photo, that of the giant owl butterfly, startled me! All of a sudden, something was staring at me, and I didn't even have my first coffee yet... LOL.

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    1. While some of the common names of butterflies are hard to understand, at least the owl butterfly is well named!

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  4. I thoroughly enjoy butterfly pavilions - seeing them fly all around and the incredible number of types there are never fails to fascinate. Always learn something new too, which is always a good thing.

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    1. There weren't many flying about when I was there but the temperature and the newness of the enclosure for most of them probably accounted for that.

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  5. “No idea” is Siproeta epaphus.

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  6. Here the most popular flower among the local butterflies is, weirdly, Senecio mandraliscae.

    Looks like a really nice pavilion. Not too crowded?

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    1. Entry is by reservation, HB, and they're letting a limited number inside. I'd heard the number was 30 per each half-hour slot but, even with the volunteers, I'd say the number of people was closer to half that while I was there, even though I'd heard they were booked solid this past week and the next. I went early, which was a good/bad thing. Good because the visitor traffic may have been lighter but bad in that it was still cool and the butterflies weren't very active. The enclosure is comprised of screen material so the air flow is little different from being outside.

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  7. I love visiting butterfly pavilions with exotic species on display. Blue morphos are quite gorgeous and as such, probably most popular. (We actually have a butterfly house less that 10 miles from here.)
    I love the textures and colors of the one that landed on you and another visitor's leg. The background color brings out different aspect of its wings.
    Is this a temporary exhibit or a new feature at the garden?

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    1. Technically, it's a temporary exhibit but there's a plan to follow this one featuring tropical butterflies with another featuring monarchs in late summer. There's also talk of using the enclosure during the butterflies' "off-season" for something like Lorikeets. In other words, I think they hope to use it on a rolling basis for various purposes.

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  8. Oops, forgot... the last one is also Siproeta epaphus.

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    1. Thanks again - that's helpful and I see that Wikipedia has good shots with both open and closed wings. Best wishes in advance for a happy birthday too ;)

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  9. Oh, that's exciting! Thanks for all these ideas of places to visit next time I'm visiting family in the area. Beautiful gardens!

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    1. If you visit SCBG, you should consider dropping by to see mine, Beth. I'm just six miles from there :)

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  10. Well, this was fun! Thanks for taking us with you. I've been seeing butterflies in my garden and the hummingbirds have been back for a while.

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    1. We're lucky to have hummingbirds here year-round, Barbara. Butterflies are seasonal visitors and we seem to have fewer and fewer with each passing year.

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  11. How beautiful. The grey cracker butterfly is like a stained glass window, and interestingly, seems to pick up the colour on the different pants legs.

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    1. I was surprised to see how different the gray cracker butterfly looked against the different backgrounds too, Jane. Of course, I had a hard time seeing him/her when on my my pants leg.

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  12. Im having so much fun as a volunteer in the butterfly pavilion at SCBG. The 11-2 time slot is the most active time for the butterflies. The Blue Mirphis were clearly in a mission and we practically had to get out of their way. The public is so thrilled to see them particularly. There’s nothing quite like their peacock blue iridescence. A native plant gardener in the area said he had some of the same butterflies on exhibit .The male Postman we found to be particularly friendly.
    A wonderful account, Kris.
    Robin

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    1. Thanks for showing me the ropes, Robin! It's interesting that a local gardener has seen the postman butterfly here as its range is supposed to extend from Southern Texas to Argentina but then the climate is changing...

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  13. My apologies Kris-A typo - the Blue Morpho aka Morpho peleides is a very ripe banana eater vs nectar. So much to see and learn in this butterfly exhibit.
    Robin

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    1. No problem - I knew what you were referring to, Robin.

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  14. So many beautiful butterflies Kris. It looks like a lovely and inspiring place to visit. We have a huge arboretum that has butterflies here, but I haven't been there in years. It looks like you were able to see and photograph quite a few varieties.
    We've had cabbage whites flying around for a few weeks, but it is still early here for butterflies. Still having cold nights, and getting down to 30 on Wednesday. I don't mind the cooler days, but I wish it didn't get so cold at night. A few more weeks, and hopefully we'll be on a more steady course for reliable spring temps and no more frost. That's when the fun begins. Of course, you have fun all year round there, but here, we have to wait for it, and what a treat it is.

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    1. Your climate seems to be the extreme opposite of ours, Cindy, at least at this time of year. Our peak daytime temperature yesterday was 87 and it was 86 today. Too warm for so early in the year!

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  15. I loved this Kris! Thank you for sharing. I've been to a couple of butterfly pavilions in the past, but his one looks by far the nicest. I love when they land right on you!

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    1. I expect that sunny and warmer conditions will make the butterflies much more active and I'm looking forward to another visit before the exhibit closes.

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