In many ways Bernheim is one giant butterfly garden! Our flora-filled landscape around the Garden Pavilion, the assortment of native nectar-laden wildflowers in the Big Prairie, and even the profusion of flowers growing in Bernheim’s Edible Garden all attract butterflies. But as Volunteer Naturalist, Corinne Mastey, points out in her video, butterflies also need appropriate host plants on which to lay their eggs.
Once hatched, caterpillars are ravenous feeders and some of them very picky eaters. Monarch caterpillars, for instance, depend solely on milkweed plants to survive. Check out the Monarch Waystation located in Edible Garden – you may be rewarded by seeing both monarchs and the caterpillars. If you search surrounding vegetation, you might find one of their lovely bejeweled chrysalis. Look for Black Swallowtail caterpillars feeding on parsley, coriander, carrots, and related plants. The Bent Twig trail is a good place to look for Spicebush larva, feeding on spicebush of sassafras leaves; Zebra Swallowtail larva munching on pawpaw leaves, also abundant on the Bent Twig Trail.
Questions to Ponder at Bernheim: Observe a butterfly in flight. What do you notice about it? Does it glide or rapidly beat its wings? Do you wonder purpose their patterns and color serve? What questions come to your mind when watching butterflies? The transformation of caterpillar to butterfly has long inspired poets and artists. Can you think of any poems inspired by this metamorphosis?