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Winter showers will bring May flowers….and butterflies!

by Brittney Gonzalez, ENC Communications Intern Super blooms have been happening, as well as the emergence of butterflies. Painted Lady Butterflies for example, were causing quite a spectacle, as they flew north through Southern California from Southern Deserts. While we’re on the topic of butterflies, Orange County’s only Butterfly House will re-open at the Spring Faire on May 19. Guests will have the opportunity to watch native butterflies interacting with native host plants. What could be more calming than watching these beautiful insects flit and float around? While you’re here, you can sit at the Butterfly HabitatObservation Deck, inside our meadow, and just watch a diversity of insects and birds enjoying the habitat. Stroll by our desert plants, and see some of our cacti in…

Painted Ladies

by Brittney Gonzalez, ENC Communications Intern Have you seen butterflies flitting around lately?   Butterflies known as “Painted Ladies”, are currently migrating north from Mexico where they have been recently spotted all over Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles counties. This year’s rain has really propelled the population increase, because there are more host plants for the butterflies to lay their eggs. They will travel as far as their “fat reserves allow them”, says ABC News, from the desert plants they were hatched. Most painted ladies will live between 2-6 weeks, so after making the trip from Northern Mexico, they then make their next stop on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas up in Northern California. Here they will either lay eggs and die, or…

Butterfly House Docent Training coming soon!

Have you ever wanted to get in touch with nature’s beautiful, graceful, varied and enchanting butterflies? Well the Environmental Nature Center is excited to announce our Butterfly House Docent Training April 23, 2016 from 10am-12:00pm. ENC’s Butterfly House opened April 17th, 2005. In the fall of 2004, Master Gardeners volunteered to help the ENC grounds coordinator plant 45 different host and nectar plants for our native Orange County butterflies that became residents of the Butterfly House. Orange County’s Native Butterflies are one of nature’s magnificent and unique insects. Today there are about 60 butterflies native to Orange County, but we once had over 100 species. Many have been lost due to habitat destruction from urban sprawl. During our training program participants will learn facts, information, and…

ENC’s 10th Annual Spring Faire!

It’s that time of the year again for nature lovers of all ages! The Environmental Nature Center is hosting its 10th annual Spring Faire! This is event will host the much-anticipated opening of Orange County’s one and only Butterfly House, which provides an opportunity to learn about the diets and habits of California’s native butterflies. Native plants will also be on sale so attendees can attract beautiful birds and insects to their backyards while saving water. Children’s art from all over the community will also be on display. With the “Trashy Yet Classy” theme for this year’s faire, attendees will be given the chance to appreciate the inventive ways that young artists have been able to capture the significance of our environment. Prizes will also…

The search for milkweed has begun

Butterfly lovers all over Southern California are eagerly searching for milkweed plants to attract monarch butterflies to their gardens.  Because of habitat loss and pesticide use, the monarch butterfly population has dropped by 80% in the last decade, and suburban gardeners are pitching in to help provide habitat for these beautiful and iconic insects.  The most common commercially available milkweed for sale at garden centers is Asclepias curassavica, or tropical milkweed.  It’s easy to grow, has pretty red and orange flowers, grows year-round, and is attractive to monarchs and plant lovers alike.  It’s a garden center’s dream. Unfortunately, it can be a monarch conservation nightmare. The monarch parasite protozoan OE is spread when an infected female lays her eggs.  OE spores are deposited onto the…

Top Ten ways to Help Butterflies

Plant locally native host plants in your garden.  A butterfly is a caterpillar’s way of making another caterpillar.  Caterpillars are picky eaters, and most gardens and yards are full of beautiful plants that they just can’t eat!  Imagine if your kids could only eat apples, and every store and farmer’s market around decided to stop stocking apples and replaced them with pears.  You’d be desperate for a source of apples!  If you plant what they need, they will reward you with another generation of butterflies.  A few chewed up leaves is a small price to pay for such beauty. Skip the pesticides and herbicides.  It sounds obvious, but many people who desperately want butterflies in their garden think nothing of spraying poisonous chemicals all over…

Native Milkweed Plants Can Save Monarch Population

Every November, 33 million monarch butterflies migrate up to 2,800 miles to Mexico for their winter hibernation, escaping the freezing winter temperatures in the United States. For several months, they’ll take shelter in oyamel fir trees, returning to the very same tree every year. However, in recent years, scientists have noticed the monarch population to be declining at a rapid rate. Identified relative to the number of acres they inhabit during their seasonal hibernation, monarchs have decreased from 44.5 acres in 1996 to an alarming 1.65 acres in 2013. According to research conducted in December 2012 and 2013 by the World Wildlife Fund, the monarch population has dropped by an alarming 44 percent in the last year alone. Why are the monarchs vanishing? As their…

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