Welcome to Arkansas’s only Butterfly House! Here we raise Native Butterflies. That means that these are the same species of butterflies you would find in your garden our outside in our garden. However, we still want to keep the door closed. This is to protect the butterflies, not to imprison them. Butterflies are food for a wide variety of birds and other insects. They are at the base of the food chain. A single butterfly may lay 100 eggs but of those 100 babies only a few will become adults! The butterfly house allows for many more of those babies to become adults. This increases the number of butterflies in our ecosystem overall and butterflies have seen their populations decline greatly in recent years!
Here in the butterfly house we have everything butterflies need to survive. This is a little butterfly paradise! We have both host plants (that is what the caterpillars eat) and nectar plants (that is what the butterflies feed on) so that they have food throughout their transformative lifecycle. There is also a large rock in the middle of the butterfly house that gets sprinkled with water regularly, so that it is often full of little puddles. This is because butterflies need to get nutrients found in rocks. Have you ever seen a lot of butterflies just hanging on in the middle of the road or on a path somewhere? This is called puddling.
Now you may already have started exploring a little bit but I want you to slow down and look for each stage of the butterfly in it’s life cycle. So what are the four stages of a butterfly’s life cycle? They are egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly? You may have said cocoon, and that is close, an easy mistake to make, but a cocoon is what a moth makes (it is a very different process) and a chrysalis is what a butterfly makes. So, take a moment to look around for the easiest stage to spot first, the butterfly.
What colors of butterflies do you see? What are they doing? Feel free to stop this audio tour and collect more data on butterflies.