Our new Butterfly Nursery has been a point of great interest to our guests and staff alike. Since it was built in October, we have raised and released well over 100 monarch butterflies to roam our beautiful grounds.
The brilliantly-colored monarch butterfly is among the most easily recognizable of the butterfly species that call North America home.
Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, after which it takes three to five days for the egg to hatch. After hatching and consuming their empty egg case, monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed. The caterpillars grow and molt several times over roughly a two-week period and then form a chrysalis (pictured above) in which they undergo metamorphosis. After approximately another two weeks within the chrysalis, they emerge as adult butterflies. Most adult monarchs only live for a few weeks, searching for food in the form of flower nectar, for mates, and for milkweed on which to lay their eggs.
FUN FACT: According to the National Wildlife Foundation, monarch butterflies communicate with scents and colors. The males attract females to mate by releasing chemicals from scent glands on their hind wings. Monarchs signal to other animals that they are poisonous by having bright orange wings. The bright colors serve as a warning that predators should attack at their own risk!