If you visit the Wings of the Tropics conservatory at the Butterfly Pavilion this month, you’re guaranteed to see hundreds of new occupants taking residence there.
Butterfly Pavilion is celebrating Monarch Magic all through November by releasing hundreds of monarch butterflies into the conservatory.
“We have found that exposing people to invertebrate species, such as monarchs, and providing them education in an enchanting, magical natural environment it can help foster a new appreciation and understanding for the work that is required to protect them,” Patrick Tennyson, president and CEO of Butterfly Pavilion, said. “Butterfly Pavilion is one of the only places in Colorado where people can see them up close and personal as they flutter all around them in our butterfly conservatory.”
The Butterfly Pavilion is celebrating Monarch Magic in the Wings of the Tropics conservatory all through the month of November. It will release hundreds of Monarch butterflies throughout the month. (Sydney McDonald/Staff Writer)
Butterfly Pavilion Lepidopterist Manager Shiran Herschovich said Monarch Magic is a way to educate the public on the importance of this species, and all invertebrates, to our ecosystem, as well as unique cultural traditions.
Butterfly Pavilion was joined by members of the Mexican Cultural Center to celebrate Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead on Nov. 1 for the first release of 450 monarchs into the conservatory.
“The arrival of monarchs in Mexico has been tracked for centuries by indigenous peoples in the region,” Herschovich said. “The monarch migration has been closely tied to a lot of cultural and traditional celebrations.”
When monarchs make their 3,000-mile migration from the northern United States into Mexico, they arrive near the time of Dia de los Muertos and are an essential symbol in the Mexican tradition to symbolize the souls of beloved deceased friends and family arriving back home for the celebration.
“It’s a really special element to be able to foster that environment here so people can connect and celebrate,” Herschovich said.
Butterflies and many other invertebrates can be seen as an “indicator species,” Herschovich said, so understanding and studying their patterns and behaviors can be crucial to helping with conservation efforts.
“Butterflies are one of the first animals to decline when a habitat is degrading or damaged,” Herschovich said. “They are actually extremely picky eaters. Many butterflies will only eat one specific type of plant or group of plants, and we see that with monarchs and the milkweed plant. When a butterfly loses that native habitat and food source it can start a cascade that we really want to avoid.”
Along with visiting the monarchs at the Butterfly Pavilion to learn more, Herschovich said the zoo is always looking for volunteers for their Colorado Butterfly Monitoring Network.
“We recruit volunteer community scientists across the state to go out and survey butterfly populations every summer and report that data back to us, which is essential,” Herschovich said. “Not only do we get those important numbers but people actually get a hands-on approach to conservation and become stakeholders in understanding and improving the landscapes around them.”
To learn more about the program and how to sign up as a volunteer in one of the conservation programs, visit butterflies.org/community-science.
The Monarch Magic program will run through Nov. 30 during normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last monarch release of the month will be on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. The event is included in the price of general admission.