What are the White Things on the Trees in the Park?
Post to Friends of the Garden, Garden Calendar
Have you noticed the white cloth bags that hang on the trees in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Parks? Ever wonder what those are about? The bags are there to protect the caterpillars of some of the beautiful butterflies and moths that you can see in the Bill Roston Native Butterfly House. Some of our favorites feed on trees, such as Luna, Polyphemus, and Io moths on walnut, oak, and redbud trees. We place the caterpillars on the trees and keep them safe from hungry birds and wasps by covering the branches with the white cloth bags.
After a few weeks, we open the bags and collect a harvest of caterpillars and cocoons that we place in the Butterfly House. Other kinds of caterpillars feed on other kinds of plants in the Butterfly House itself, and it’s a constant challenge to grow the plants they need because they eat so much!
Our philosophy at the Butterfly House is to bring people close to nature, especially the most beautiful insects of all, the butterflies and moths. Unlike many Butterfly Houses, which show only the adults of tropical species, we display the whole life cycle of native species that live right here in the Ozarks, along with the native plants that they depend on.
Learning “who eats what” is a great ecological education in itself. The Bill Roston Native Butterfly House is not a Zoo, with living things taken out of their context and kept in cages. Instead, it’s a place where you can see the hidden beauties of the natural world that live right outside your door. The netting around the Butterfly House, like the bags on the trees, is not so much a cage as a way to keep our favorite bugs from becoming lunch for hungry predators.
The Bill Roston Native Butterfly House, 2400 S. Scenic, Springfield is open to the public mid May through September. Hours of operation are weekends Saturday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. plus Monday – Wednesday, 5 p.m. until dusk. The fourth annual Friends of the Garden Butterfly Festival will be held, Saturday, July 21, 2012. See you there! Questions, call 417.891.1515.