The 2017 Joseph A. Strasser Butterfly Festival at Tree Hill Nature Center is always an amazing event with so many people from all ages, stages, and walks of life represented. For the last 16 years Tree Hill has truly enjoyed being able to put this Festival on for the Jacksonville community. And, for the last 16 years it has been a butterfly festival. Why the focus on butterflies? For this month’s article, Tree Hill wanted to highlight some of the amazing features of butterflies and why we dedicate an entire festival to them.
Butterflies go through metamorphosis, the Greek word for transform or change, beginning as an egg and ending as a butterfly. For the monarch the process of metamorphosis takes a few months and the emerged butterfly at the end only lives for a few weeks. The process begins with an egg, goes to the larval stage, the pupal stage, and then becomes an adult.
- Butterflies deposit their eggs onto leaves. The egg is attached with glue that the butterfly secretes onto the plant. Over a few weeks, the monarch can lay hundreds of eggs!
- During the larval stage the main focus of the caterpillar is to eat! The growing larva has a number of different stages through which it goes. During different phases the larva leaves a different kind of pattern on the leaves it eats.
- The pupal stage of the butterfly is the final stage before it emerges from its chrysalis as a butterfly. It is during the pupal phase that the characteristics of the butterfly emerge, from a change in eyes and antennae to the formation of the butterfly’s wings.
The metamorphosis of butterflies has long been an early science project for countless classrooms. Scientists young and old, professional and backyard enthusiasts can gain much from studying the butterfly. They also have an intrinsic value; simply being a part of the natural world is reason enough to consider their habitats and survival needs.
Each year, when Tree Hill puts on the Joseph A. Strasser Butterfly Festival, all of these things are honored and remembered. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the importance of and attraction to butterflies. As spring gives way to summer we encourage you to do some research on your own about these amazing insects. If you missed the Joseph A. Strasser Butterfly Festival you can come out to Tree Hill and see our butterfly house and butterfly gardens. Now is a great time to visit and see many different species!
To double check our facts, we referenced the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Lab: http://monarchlab.org/biology-and-research.