Vibrant butterflies delight nature appreciators

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Beneath a 65-percent shaded structure, 16 different North American butterflies fly among vibrant wildflowers, sweet nectar plants and a small fish-filled pond.

The butterflies on display are brought from two farms in Florida, though the majority of the present species can also be found in various Arizona environments.

With only about 60 people inside the shaded structure at a given time, viewers are provided with sufficient space to bend down and observe the butterflies as they roost on tall plants, atop orange slices and on the flower tips of trees and tall plants.

Exhibition Coordinator Sue Lanker has been working at the Desert Botanical Garden for five years. She provided much insight into the realities of the short and simple lives of the many butterflies in the exhibit.

“Butterflies basically have two purposes in life: to eat and procreate,” she said.

Butterflies have two-week life cycles once they have transformed from caterpillars to butterflies.

The fluttering creatures seem to be content with rotating between various flowers, plants and ponds for the entirety of their days.

“They have banker’s hours,” Lanker said. “They are up around nine and back down around five.”

Signs within the exhibit indicate that butterflies do several activities throughout their days. Some of the activities listed on the sign “A Butterfly’s Day is Busy” include basking in the sun, “puddling” in wet mud, perching and feeding.

The exhibit coordinators have provided an ample amount of flowers and water (in the form of small, muddy puddles) for the butterflies, so no butterfly goes without proper nourishment while on display. Additionally, there are slices of oranges scattered throughout the tent for the butterflies to enjoy.

A verified count of butterflies becomes blurry after the first week of exhibition, but Lanker guesses there are thousands of butterflies for viewing.

The coordinators also take specific precautionary action to ensure that no butterfly escapes the shaded structure with trap plants at both the exit and entrance of the exhibit.

Butterflies are also known to “hitchhike” on the backs of attendees, so a worker stands at the exit with a duster to prevent escape.

The sweet-smelling and plentiful blooming plants, combined with the unmatchable Arizona springtime weather, make the Butterfly Exhibit an ideal getaway for the day.

The Desert Botanical Garden is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Spring Butterfly Exhibit this year and plans to continue the celebration throughout the remaining weeks of the exhibit.

The butterflies are on display through May 13 from 9:30 a.m until 5:00 p.m daily.

Reach the reporter at ejnicho1@asu.edu

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