The Lowndes County Master Gardeners, a part of the Mississippi State University Extension, invite you to the first annual Butterfly Bonanza. Please join us at the Riverwalk Butterfly Garden from 9-11 a.m. Saturday.
Butterfly fossils have been dated back to 56 million years ago. These insects with large brightly colored wings are of the order Lepidoptera.
One of my favorite activities with my second-graders was observing the complete metamorphosis take place. A fellow teacher kept watch for the milkweed to appear on the roadside near her home. Our container was ready.
We would soon see the eggs hatch and caterpillars rapidly grow as we added milkweed for a food source. Excitement would fill the classroom as the chrysalis appeared. When the time was right the pupal skin would split and the adult Monarch insects would climb out and spread their wings. Release time was always a bit sad, but the process provided many learning activities.
Come learn about the types of plants that will attract butterflies to your home gardens. We have nectar plants as well as host plants, which the caterpillars eat before becoming a chrysalis. Some of our favorite nectar plants that you might see are the Lantana, Pentas, Turks Cap, Butterfly Bush, Phlox, Purple Coneflower and lots of Zinnias. Zinnias are easy to grow from seed. Children love to watch them sprout and develop. Plant the seeds in a large area, rather than a few scattered around. Larger groupings makes it easier for the butterflies to see, smell and find your garden. Yes, these are old timey, sun loving or native plants. Milkweed doubles as a host plant for Monarchs and many butterflies like the nectar.
No pesticides should be sprayed onto the plants as it could cause harm to the butterflies.
Butterflies do not have tongues, but have a tubular mouth part and are restricted to a liquid diet. They use their proboscis to drink sweet nectar from the flowers.
Each species of butterflies has a nectar plant that they prefer. Some even enjoy over-ripe fruit. We will watch them eat and learn more facts about the important roles the butterflies play in our environment.
Butterflies are cold-blooded. Not only can you observe them on nectar plants, but you might see them spread their wings on the edge of a mud puddle or basking on a rock. They need to warm up to fly.
Come visit on Saturday. We have several activities for young children. A chalk art activity is planned and we will have butterfly stick-on tattoos and coloring pages. Printed information will be available and lemonade will be served. Please leave your butterfly nets at home!
The Riverwalk Butterfly Garden is one of several projects the Lowndes County Master Gardeners work on in our area. We look forward to meeting you and your family.
Former elementary teacher and avid gardener Olivia Sansing lives in the New Hope community and shares timely tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.