|Largest exhibit in the U.S. - Phoenix AZ|
I was reminded of a time when I wanted to wake up in the mornings with sunshine highlighting butterflies hanging from the ceiling over my bed. Now I know how that would feel and I am so sorry I did not hang those butterflies.
A friend and I joined a tour group with Master’s Touch Tours to Phoenix AZ in a very comfortable bus. We arrived at Butterfly Wonderland to spend the morning enjoying and learning about a variety of butterflies. www.butterflywonderland.com They receive butterflies from farms all over the world. They have from 1500 to 35,000 in any given week depending on shipments and hatchings. I learned the difference between cocoons and chrysalis (moths make cocoons and butterflies make chrysalis). Good to know.
We watched an excellent 20 minute 3-D movie about the migration of Monarch butterflies. I love 3-D. It felt like I could reach up and just pick a Monarch out of the air in this excellent award winning film.
In a smaller room we saw the cocoons and chrysalis’ hanging from trays behind glass windows and could watch as they hatched (or just hung).
An attendant stood at the door to the very large tropical rainforest environment making sure butterflies did not escape. I’ve been to the Amazon (Ecuador) and have seen a variety of butterflies but when I walked into this rainforest with thousands of butterflies I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland! Butterflies of every color, size and shape filled the air, sat on leaves, landed on people and sometimes rested on the concrete walkways. It was imperative to walk slowly and look everywhere. I took 200 photos (so these are only a few!)
The walkways wound around a waterfall and a koi pond banked by rainforest flowers, plants and trees. Spending hours meandering through such beauty was such a pleasure.
Over in one corner I saw a Norfolk Pine tree covered in butterflies. Talk about tree decoration! Spellbinding!
There were attendants who would explain butterfly gardening and gave us brochures with lists of plants that would draw in the butterflies. I’m trying to grow AZ milkweed plants but from one packet of seeds I only have one plant this year! Not as easy as it sounds.
Things I did not know:
There are about 28,000 species of butterflies. There are about 800 species in North America.
334 species can be found in Arizona but Texas has more!
Butterflies sense vibrations (no ears) and taste with their feet. Not surprising is the antennae that help with direction.
Things I did know:
Pesticides can and do kill caterpillars and butterflies.
Adult butterflies like certain but not all flowers with nectar. For instance, Monarch butterflies like certain milkweeds.
Caterpillars eat certain host plants after they emerge from their eggs. They need them for energy and when we destroy those plants, we destroy the caterpillars reducing the butterfly populations.
I’ve just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Flight Behavior http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Behavior-Novel-Barbara-Kingsolver/dp/0062124277/ref=sr_1_1/189-6467846-9119038?ie=UTF8&qid=1441683547&sr=8-1&keywords=flight+behavior+by+kingsolver The 3-D movie really brought her word pictures to life. I highly recommend that book.
There is a gift shop and a café available when you need a break from all that active butterfly beauty and you can go back to the butterflies as often as you want.
I'm ready to go visit again!