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Flutter By, Butterfly


monarch-larva

Photography by Zac Stayton, Cockrell Butterfly Center

Interested in butterfly gardening? Butterflies can dance around yards almost year round in the Houston area. Nearly a hundred species inhabit southeast Texas, from large and showy monarchs, gulf fritillaries and several spectacular swallowtails, to tiny delicate blues and hairstreaks or the fast-flying skippers. Commonly seen are monarchs and swallowtails, but to see even more butterfly species consider visiting the Cockrell Butterfly Center. In addition to being a sanctuary for butterflies, the center is also a repository for butterfly-friendly plants. Thanks to their semi-annual plant sale, the Cockrell Butterfly Center can help fill your flower beds and landscaping with  plants that draw any number of fluttering creatures.

To lure a lovely assortment of butterflies to your home garden, consider adding butterfly-friendly plants that appeal to all four life stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult (butterfly). A wide variety of nectar plants—food sources for adult butterflies—await customers at the Cockrell Butterfly Center plant sale. Host plants will also be available for their hungry babies (i.e., caterpillars).

Dr. Nancy Greig, director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center, along with staff horticulturists Soni Holladay and Zac Stayton will be available to talk to customers. A bevy of dedicated volunteers, many of whom are Master Gardener experts, will also be on hand to answer butterfly gardening questions and help gardeners create the perfect backyard butterfly habitat. After all, butterflies not only add color and whimsy to a garden, but aid in plant pollination by carrying pollen from one plant to the next. They are designed by nature to benefit the environment.

“Don’t miss the chance to embrace a wonderful hobby or to add new varieties to an established garden,” says Greig. “If you plant the right plants, butterflies will find you!”

The event takes place April 6, at 9 a.m. to noon at the Museum Parking Garage, Seventh Floor, 5555 Hermann Park Drive. Visit hmns.org and select Butterfly Center to learn more.

cloudless-sulphur-on-Cassia gulf-frit-on-pentas Hairstreak-on-Milkweed painted-ladies-and-coneflower

(Above) Cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae) descends upon Cassia (senna) – the host plant for its caterpillars.

(Above) Cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae) descends upon Cassia (senna) – the host plant for its caterpillars.

Texan Crescent (Anthanassa texana) on lantana

Texan Crescent (Anthanassa texana) on lantana

Painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) in a patch of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) in a patch of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on a cluster of onion flowers

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on a cluster of onion flowers

A gulf fritillary butterfly (Agraulis vanillae) on red pentas flower (Pentas lanceolata)

A gulf fritillary butterfly (Agraulis vanillae) on red pentas flower (Pentas lanceolata)

A monarch perches on milkweed

A monarch perches on milkweed

Hairstreak on milkweed

Hairstreak on milkweed

 


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