Creating a Butterfly Exhibit Part 2

Category: Education

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Nectar Plants Feeding Your Butterflies Presenter: Tina Dombrowski Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Saint Paul, Minnesota

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“Nothing succeeds like excess” Violet Crawley DowagerCountess of Grantham

It is all about the butterfly nectar plants!:

It is all about the butterfly nectar plants ! Plant selection and ongoing horticultural care is crucial in sustaining a viable population of butterflies.

It is all about the butterfly nectar plants!:

It is all about the butterfly nectar plants! In temporary butterfly exhibits every plant should be a nectar source with a few trees or shrubs for protection and roosting.

General guidelines in planting a butterfly exhibit:

General guidelines in planting a butterfly exhibit Quality of nectar plants Quantity of nectar plants Volume of nectar sources Diversity of plant species

Quality of nectar plants:

Quality of nectar plants Healthy, pesticide free plants. Best to grow in-house to insure consistency, optimum size, species, and cultural care. Maintain soil moisture to encourage nectar production. Dead head regularly for increased flower production Provide adequate light levels for vigorous growth and flowering.

Quantity of nectar plants:

Quantity of nectar plants Masses of nectar rich flowers throughout the duration of the exhibit Botanical floral display should attempt to rival the butterfly display Full size plants in peak bloom Continual sequence of bloom managed in accordance with USDA permit protocols and standard operating procedures.

Volume of nectar sources:

Volume of nectar sources Create flowering nectar sources to accommodate optimum eye level viewing for visitors of all ages. Utilize cubic volume with vines, hanging baskets, arbors, trelliswork, etc. from low-mid-upper levels within the available exhibit dimensional space.

Diversity of plant species:

Diversity of plant species Butterflies subsist on a wide variety of plant nectar sources Feeding preferences influenced by color, nectar quality, accessibility of the floral nectaries, light levels (sun or shade), spacial considerations-ground feeders to tree canopy feeders. A broad nectar plant palette to compliment the diverse butterfly population.

Commonly recommended butterfly nectar plant species:

Commonly recommended butterfly nectar plant species

Pentas lanceolata:

Pentas lanceolata

Stachytarpheta sp.:

Stachytarpheta sp.

Psiguria sp. Gurania sp.:

Psiguria sp. Gurania sp.

Jatropha integerrima:

Jatropha integerrima

Buddleia sp.:

Buddleia sp.

Lantana camara:

Lantana camara

Senecio confusus:

Senecio confusus

Heliotropium sp.:

Heliotropium sp.

Duranta repens:

Duranta repens

Ixora sp.:

Ixora sp.

Verbesina virginica:

Verbesina virginica

Verbena bonariensis:

Verbena bonariensis

Supplemental nutritional sources:

Supplemental nutritional sources Pollen Fruit Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PA’s) Artificial nectar


Pollen Longwing butterflies collect and feed on pollen as an additional source of nitrogenous nutrients.


Fruit Sap from ripe to overripe bananas, plantains, mangoes, etc. sustain non-nectar feeding species including Blue Morpho and Owl butterflies. Clean and replace regularly.

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids:

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids Found primarily in the Boraginaceae, Asteraceae, Orchidaceae & Leguminosae families utilized by C learwing & Queen butterflies for defense and sexual attraction.

Artificial Nectar:

Artificial Nectar Augments flower nectar Clean and replenish daily to prevent microbial contamination. Feeder design must provide a non-sticky perch. Feeder colors red-blue-yellow attract butterflies .

Recipes for artificial nectar:

Recipes for artificial nectar Gatorade 1 part sugar to 5 parts water 10% to 20% concentration (weight to volume) of clean, preferably boiled, water to fructose or sucrose.

Host Plants:

Host Plants Not allowed by USDA on Lepidoptera importation permits and interstate permits

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The most common mistake of seasonal exhibits is starvation of the captive butterfly population.


Signs Significant quantity of dead, fresh looking butterflies with flattened abdomens Unusual amount of activity at artificial nectar feeders or frequent testing of non-nectar source plants Aberrant behavior-multiple butterflies feeding on one plant.


Causes Insufficient quantities of nectar, fruit sap, or moisture sources for the number of butterflies Incorrect plant selection-nectar poor plant species, cultivars, hybrids Plants grown in too much shade, drought stressed, or lacking vigor.


Outcomes Diminishes the life span of the butterflies in captivity from an average of 2 weeks to 1 to 2 days adding to the cost of supplying live butterflies Impacts the visitor experience and educational opportunities. Sends the wrong conservation message to staff, visitors, and stakeholders.


Recommendations Seasonal exhibits should be designed as botanical flower shows with butterflies. The environmental conditions in the exhibit should favor the cultural requirements of the nectar plant species. If the plants are healthy, the butterflies will feast, fly and live to a ripe old age. Consult with other butterfly exhibitors, butterfly breeders, and professional organizations (International Association of Butterfly Exhibitors and Suppliers) for information. Tropical nectar plant list available with this session. Experiment and enjoy!

Thanks to the following professionals who provided information for this session:

Thanks to the following professionals who provided information for this session Dale Clark, Butterflies Unlimited, Texas Dan Dunwoody, Butterfly Dan’s, Florida Martin Feather, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Florida Cheryl Tyndall, Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, Canada Thomas Hecker, EcoBotanic Designs Inc., Florida

Seasonal Butterfly Exhibits: If You Build it They Will Come:

Marshall Butterfly Pavilion at the Desert Botanical Garden Seasonal Butterfly Exhibits: If You Build it They Will Come

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Background Information Opened in February 2002 Approximately 2400 square feet USDA containment chamber Two seasonal exhibits with average run of 10 weeks, per exhibit Weekly shipments of butterflies from butterfly farms in Florida and California Support approximately 800 to 1200 butterflies each week

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NUMBERS Annual operating budget: $82,000 Butterflies Plants Maintenance Supplies Interpretation Annual payroll: $60,000 Annual revenue: $180,000/ GROSS Annual visitors: 120 , 000

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Temporary structure challenges: Temperatures: hot and cold Wind/ Dust storms Rain = muddy paths

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Install and deinstall for each exhibit

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PLANT CHALLENGES Plant palette changes for each exhibit Plant replacement: heat and frost damage Availability of nectar plants

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BUTTERFLY BUFFET Nectar from non-host plants Fresh oranges Juicy Juice Minerals from mud puddles Water

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Availability of butterfly species

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PESTS Ants Grasshoppers Toads

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Roof Rats Lizards Black Widows

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Who visits our Butterfly Exhibits? LOCALS/ TOURISTS/ MEMBERS 84% are adults 16% are children, excluding school groups 38% are members 62% are non-members

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WHO VISITS? Families School Groups Girl Scouts Group Tours Photographers

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VISITOR EXPERIENCE Enhances overall garden experience New audiences Goals for the visitor experience: Meaningful learning experiences Habitat immersion Opportunities to interact with staff and volunteers Comfortable space to sit and linger Programs include: Weekly releases Activity tent Meet the Butterfly Expert Breakfast with the Butterflies

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Plants Native trees and shrubs Succulents Colorful displays of annual flowers Spaces Intimacy on a garden scale Mood Contemplation and peacefulness Playfulness to delight Inspiration Sensory experiences Water feature Scent of flowers Hardscape Elements that reflect materials used in Desert Botanical Garden

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Monarch Tagging Program

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LESSONS LEARNED / PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE Larger facility Permanent paving Increase learning opportunities Space for school groups Space for strollers to park Space for visitors to eat outside of exhibit Space for special events Butterfly expert to manage stock More nectar!

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All photos are copy righted and are not available for use without permission from the Desert Botanical Garden. For more information please contact Elaine McGinn at . Thank you.

Using Volunteers to Enhance the Visitor Experience:

Using Volunteers to Enhance the Visitor Experience Gail Manning Fort Worth Botanic Garden Fort Worth, TX

Why Volunteers?:

Why Volunteers? 200+ volunteers 50% returning Work 5 shifts 20 shifts per day for 37 days 2860 total hours Why volunteers? 200+ volunteers 50% Returning Work 5 shifts 0 Shifts a day for 37 days 2860 Total hours

How To Use Volunteers:

How To Use Volunteers USDA guidelines Butterfly questions Plant highlights

USDA Guidelines:

USDA Guidelines

Use Dried Specimens:

Use Dried Specimens

Station 1:

Station 1

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Focusing “Can you see the proboscis searching for nectar?” Comparison “Have you seen a similar butterfly?” Evaluation “What is your favorite?” Cause and Effect “Why do you think the butterfly is doing that?”

Butterfly Behaviors:

Butterfly Behaviors

Dissipate attention:

Dissipate attention

Plant highlights:

Plant highlights

Chenille Tree- USDA:

Chenille Tree- USDA

Screw Pine – Atlas Moth:

Screw Pine – Atlas Moth

Volunteers in a butterfly exhibit perform useful jobs & improve the visitor experience:

Volunteers in a butterfly exhibit perform useful jobs & improve the visitor experience

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No part of this presentation may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the American Public Gardens Association. Copyright © 2013 by the American Public Gardens Association. All rights reserved. The American Public Gardens Association V ision: A world where public gardens are indispensable APGA 2013 Garden Evolution Conference _______________________________________________

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