Friday, January 31, 2014

“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” 
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Below is an article published by the U-T San Diego newspaper back in September about the Monarch Program farm in Vista, Calif. It was located in Encinitas, Calif., but has since moved to its new digs in Vista. I did visit the old site and found it quite fascinating.
I went and visited the new home of The Monarch Program back at the beginning of November to offer my volunteer services and check out the site. They were still in the building stages when visiting then. The large butterfly house is up (impressive!); the other structures will not be completed for a few months yet. By the looks of things, they won't near completion until sometime in mid spring is my guess. I'm looking forward to helping out in any way I can if The Monarch Program can use my services.
© Tom Merriman

View inside butterfly house with row-upon-row of Asclepias curassavica.

The next photos are snapshots I took inside their vivarium when it was located in Encinitas. It was quite small compared to the new one in Vista, but was so captivating and delightful. I have great hopes and expectations when I visit the new Vista vivarium this spring.

 Snapshot I took of a Monarch inside the vivarium.

 Pinning Monarch chrysalids on to cardboard strips for hanging in the vivarium.

Hung up inside, one can see new butterflies emerging.

Mourning Cloak chrysalis.

The Monarch Program set up a feeding station on a large plate atop a pedestal for the butterflies to feed on, as the vivarium was way too small to harbor enough flowering plants to sustain them all. It was filled with various slices of fruit, predominantly watermelon.

There were literally hundreds of individual butterflies of numerous species inside the butterfly house. They were very used to having people around, which made them quite tame and approachable. In fact, the Monarchs are so social that they landed on this little boy's hand, sucking off the watermelon juice that was stuck to it. My butterfly web site has a page devoted to planning a butterfly garden for the home. About half way down the text are several paragraphs related to setting up a feeding station in your own yard. I will certainly be setting up a few of them at my place.

Many grade school field trips were held at The Monarch Program in Encinitas, and many more will be planned for its new home in Vista. This is a delightful venue for young children to experience first hand and up close the miracles of nature and how alluring, beautiful and delicate are certain aspects of it.

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