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News from the Butterfly Garden

April Martin

Did you know that butterflies have taste buds on their legs? This is one of the many things that you can discover at the Butterfly Pavilion in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. When you first enter the pavilion you are greeted by a vast number of beautiful butterflies in the air, on flowers, on the walls, and on the floor. In this exhibit, children and adults of all ages are able to appreciate the beauty and unique traits of butterflies.

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Sarah Carpenter, a WYG intern, set off last Friday for a day of butterfly research that began at the Butterfly Pavilion. Sarah is working on labeling the plants in the butterfly garden here at the Washington Youth Garden. She will be providing information about the plants such as their common names, scientific names, whether they are a host or nectar plant and which types of butterflies use them. So, what better way to learn about the places where happy butterflies roam than getting up close and personal with the plants and butterflies themselves? From the Butterfly Pavilion, she headed to the U.S. Botanical Garden’s butterfly garden. Here, she was able to gain valuable tips about butterfly gardens. For example, Butterfly Bush, a previously popular plant for butterfly gardens, is no longer recommended because it has an invasive nature.

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The U.S. Botanical Garden also provided some good information for growing a successful butterfly garden. Firstly, they recommend avoiding pesticides. You want to welcome a variety of bugs and butterfly larvae, not kill them. Secondly, they suggest planting a butterfly garden in full sunlight. Believe it or not, butterflies are more likely to feed in the sun than in the shade. Lastly, they propose including a variety of plants, not just native plants in the garden. This will naturally allow for a variety of butterflies to grow and thrive there.

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 After the busy day of research, Sarah was asked about her aspirations for the Washington Youth Garden butterfly garden. She stated, “I am most excited to start labeling the plants and see the kids in the garden learning about the beautiful butterflies that flutter about the garden. I really love seeing the kids get excited about the new things that they are learning in the garden”. As for the future, Sarah said, “I would love to see the butterfly garden being updated after I am gone, with new information, and new plants. It would be neat to see it expand in size and information for the community.”

Come visit the butterfly garden soon and check out Sarah’s hard work!

–Kelly Del Grosso, Communications and Marketing Intern