We are sorry to announce that the Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly & Caterpillar Exhibit will not open for the 2021 season. Multiple factors led to this decision, including reopening guidelines from national, state, and local jurisdictions, and an overarching concern for the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff.
We encourage you to take the opportunity this summer to visit our outdoor butterfly garden and sharpen your observation skills and learn about local butterfly species. You can enjoy butterflies in your own garden or many nearby public places, too.
Local butterflies you can find in Montgomery County:
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
|Eastern Tailed Blue
Blue Everes comyntas
We hope our exhibit will be back in Spring 2022. Until then, please enjoy an overview of the experience by clicking through the gallery of photos from the past exhibits. Place your cursor on the photo below and click on the white arrow on the right to advance the image gallery.
Why plant a butterfly garden?
Local butterfly populations are decreasing due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and pollution. Planting a butterfly garden creates new habitat, so they can complete their life cycle and thrive. Besides, butterflies are beautiful and fascinating to watch.
• Plants to lay eggs on: Called host plants, these plants are eaten by the caterpillars after their eggs hatch. Host plants include trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and annuals. Each type of butterfly uses specific host plants.
• Nectar Plants: Adult butterflies take nectar from specific flowers as an energy source. Not all flowers are attractive to butterflies.
• Sun: Many nectar and host plants require full sun, but with careful plant selection, butterfly gardens can also be planted in shady, wooded areas.
• No Pesticides: Pesticides can kill caterpillars and butterflies. Identify the source of the plant problem before using chemicals. Non-chemical methods are available to combat most common plant pests.
Plant your garden to provide for all stages of the butterfly life cycle.
It’s as easy as 1-2-3-4
1. EGG: Host plants attract butterflies by providing them a place to lay their eggs. Each type of butterfly has one or more host plants (Monarchs use milkweeds). If your garden has a variety of host plants, you can count on attracting butterflies.
2. CATERPILLAR: The butterfly eggs will hatch into caterpillars. Their goals are to hide from predators and to eat. Plants can tolerate a lot of caterpillar feeding and are able to recover from feeding damage.
3. CHRYSALIS: Once fully grown, caterpillars often leave the host plant and form their chrysalis in a protected place. The chrysalis is the stage in which the caterpillar develops into a butterfly.
4. BUTTERFLY: Adult butterflies usually feed on nectar while searching for a mate. Be sure to provide both nectar plants for butterflies and host plants for their eggs and caterpillars.
These lists are just the beginning. Please refer to the web sites and books listed for more information.
Common Host Plants and the Caterpillars that Eat Them:
• White Oak (Quercus alba) – 18 species of hairstreak butterflies and 15 species of silk moths
• Native Willows (Salix species) – comma, viceroy, red-spotted purple, mourning cloak, hairstreaks, sphinx moths
• Wild Cherries (Prunus species) – viceroy, red spotted purple, tiger swallowtail, spring azure, and 10 species of silk moths
• Hickory (Carya species) – tiger swallowtail, striped and banded hairstreaks, royal walnut moth
• Parsley, Fennel, Carrot – black swallowtail
• Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) and Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) – tiger and spicebush swallowtails
• Milkweed (Asclepias species) – monarch
• Violets (several Viola species) – great spangled fritillary
PERENNIALS & SHRUBS
• Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca, A. incarnata, A. tuberosa, etc.)
• Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium sp.)
• Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
• Ironweed (Vernonia species)
• Goldenrod (Solidago species)
• Aster (Aster species)
• Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)
• Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
• Blazing Star (Liatris species)
• Blood Flower (Asclepias curassavica)
• Zinnia (Zinnia species)
• Lantana (Lantana camara)
• Marigold (Tagetes patula)
• Egyptian Starcluster (Pentas lanceolata)
• Texas Sage (Salvia coccinea)
• Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
• Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)