Life emerges at Project Native butterfly exhibit


GREAT BARRINGTON -- This summer, Project Native in Housatonic is looking for some denizens -- and some human help -- for its Butterfly House.

On Saturday, volunteers at the nonprofit plant farm and wildlife sanctuary will be going on "bug safari," collecting a rich diversity of native caterpillars, which include the orange-and-black monarch butterfly and Karner blue butterfly, along with eggs and full-fledged butterflies.

Instead of an aquarium-sized display case, these butterflies will be raised from caterpillar to butterfly in the Butterfly House, a 35-by-55-foot greenhouse where people can stop by and visit. The caterpillars are expected to undergo their metamorphosis into butterflies by July.

The Butterfly House will teach people about the life cycle of a butterfly and its dependence upon native plants for breeding and feeding.

There are at least 15 to 20 different types of butterflies, outreach coordinator Karen Lyness LeBlanc said, and each is dependent on one or two native plants for survival.

For example, the monarch is dependent on the milkweed to lay and grow its eggs, while the Eastern tiger swallowtail is dependent on the tulip tree.

"It's really connecting people to the landscape through plants and bugs," LeBlanc said. Project Native is "helping people to see the connection between native plants and biodiversity, because without the native plants we wouldn't have a number of these butterflies."

Visitors will only be able to enjoy their presence for a limited time. After several weeks, the butterflies will be released back into the outdoors.

The first bug safari will take place on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with six more safaris scheduled through August.

Participants will learn tricks for finding eggs and caterpillars, ways to identify host plants, and ecologically harvest food for caterpillars in the Butterfly House, according to the Project Native website, All ages are welcome to participate.

For additional information or to participate in a bug safari, contact Project Native at (413) 274-3433.

The Project Native farm is at 342 North Plain Road (Route 41) in Housatonic.

To reach John Sakata:,
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata


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