The butterfly explosion was right on schedule.
Abundant September rain put blossoms on Rio Grande Valley plants and the result was an explosion of butterflies in October. It was only logical.
And just as the Rio Grande Valley is the number one birding destination in the United States, it’s also among the best places to view butterflies, including several species not seen anywhere else, reports valleymorningstar.com.
Some of the best local places to see birds double as great spots to view butterflies, but just about anywhere there are flowering plants can be a good place, including backyards, gardens, and even pastures.
Just a few great butterfly places include the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, plants at the SPI Convention Center, Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Resaca de la Palma State Park, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, Valley Nature Center in Weslaco, Frontera Audubon Center in Weslaco, Ramsey Nature Park in Harlingen, and the National Butterfly Center in Mission.
Local favorites include the diminutive blue metalmark and the Mexican blue wing. Both are drop-dead gorgeous. Other Valley beauties include the border patch, Gulf fritillary, queen, silver-banded hairstreak, orange julia, white peacock and, well, the list goes on and on.
The Valley has the distinction of being one of the better places to find the world’s smallest butterfly, the pygmy blue, which has a wingspan of half an inch, reports valleymorningstar.com.
Currently, American snouts are passing through the Valley by the millions and are undoubtedly the most numerous butterfly in Texas. By the way, snout butterflies similar to those passing through the Valley were around when dinosaurs roamed the earth 70 million years ago.
According to the Texas Natural Science Center at the University of Texas, the Lone Star State has 495 species. The Butterfly Website estimates there are 28,000 species worldwide and 725 of those butterflies can be found in the United States. Moths are even more numerous than butterflies, but that’s a subject for another day.
Butterflies serve a useful purpose. They pollinate plants, provide food for many birds, and their beauty adds an exclamation point to our day. They also help us connect to nature.
National Butterfly Center
Unlike various butterfly conservatories that have been built across the United States, the National Butterfly Center provides extensive outdoor gardens of native nectar plants and specific caterpillar host plants as well as natural habitat to attract large numbers of wild butterflies and to conserve rare native butterflies.
In the few short years since the National Butterfly Center opened, it has already been the site of a number of sightings of butterflies never before seen in the United States. The close proximity to Mexico and the Rio Grande gives ample opportunity for species to cross over into the United States.
More than 300 species of butterflies have been found in the Rio Grande Valley, and over 200 of these have been seen at the National Butterfly Center, including a number of rarities and U.S. Records.
In addition to the butterflies, the National Butterfly Center is revegetating its land with rare native plants, giving visitors the chance to experience and learn about the Rio Grande Valley’s native flora and fauna.
Incredibly, almost 40 percent of the 725 butterflies that can be found in the United States can be seen in this three-county area at the southernmost tip of Texas, where the subtropical climate makes it possible to enjoy the outdoors year ’round.
Address: 3333 Butterfly Park Drive, Mission, TX 78572
Phone: (956) 583-5400
Texas Butterfly Festival
The National Butterfly Center hosts the 18th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival from November 2 – 5, 2013. Attendees will spend 3 days exploring renowned public lands and private properties with world-class trip leaders and expert guides. The Festival is taking place during prime butterfly season, when you may reasonably expect to see 60 or more species in a day.
Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
The 20th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival will occur in Harlingen immediately following the Butterfly Festival from November 6-10, 2013.
Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly may alight upon you.