Observing National Learning About Butterflies Day

Published 1:36 pm Sunday, March 5, 2023

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Spring is right around the corner and coming with it are a vibrant hallmark of springtime — butterflies.

March 14 is National Learn About Butterflies Day and in observance of nature’s colorful pollinators, Alabama Extension provides information on how citizens can encourage butterflies to visit and linger in their yards.

According to Urban Regional Extension Agent Roosevelt Robinson, butterflies are considered one of the most emblematic animals, occupying a special place in human culture.

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“With their graceful movement and astonishing beauty, these delicate winged creatures delight young and old alike, flittering from flower to flower in search of sustenance,” Roosevelt said. “The butterfly has become a metaphor for hope, joy, and transformation — totem for rebirth and resurrection, triumph of the soul and spirit.”

Lowndes County Extension Office Coordinator Tana Shealey said she enjoys watching butterflies in her own yard and finds inspiration in the beauty they add to everyday life.

“I have what’s called a ‘butterfly bush’ and it blooms in beautiful yellow and orange looking flowers,” Shealey said. “When I sit outside it is very relaxing to watch the birds and butterflies. It’s inspiring to me. If you have a problem in your life and you think, ‘Well, the Lord provides for the butterflies, then He will provide for me.”

Approximately one third of all plants need pollination to bear fruit, Roosevelt said, and butterflies are vital to the process.

“Through their delicate nature, butterflies serve as a barometer when something is amiss in the ecosystem,” Roosevelt said. “Butterflies at all developmental stages are a food source in the food chain for bats, birds, frogs, lizards, and toads, among others. More than just their beauty, [but also] an abundant and diverse butterfly population signifies a thriving ecosystem due to their roles as predator and prey.”

Butterflies exemplify the precariousness of nature, Roosevelt noted, because their welfare is increasingly threatened by habitat loss, widespread pesticide use, climate, and weather changes.

Nature lovers can help to protect butterflies by observing National Learning About Butterflies Day and partaking in activities like starting a butterfly harden, serving butterfly treats, and learning more about America’s most colorful pollinators.

“[The observance] is an initiative to encourage and educate everyone to take time to learn more about these beautiful, winged insects and their importance to the ecosystem,” Roosevelt said. “Consider planting nectar-producing flowers that have orange, pink, purple, red or yellow blossoms. Pick a sunny location and plant in clusters.”

Serving butterfly treats can be as easy as placing a bit of fresh fruit in the garden, Roosevelt said. Visiting a butterfly house, conservatory, or lepidopterarium, a facility which specializes in breeding and displaying butterflies, can raise awareness of butterflies too, Roosevelt notes.

Roosevelt said there are 165,000 known species of butterflies found on every continent except Antarctica. Some species lay their eggs only on one type of plant and all butterflies taste with their feet.

“Butterflies bring joy, relaxation, and an awareness of nature to those who observe them,” Roosevelt said. “Conserving butterflies benefits both plants and animals that depend on them as well as the future of our natural environment.”