There are around 80 butterfly species native to Orange County, where once there were over 100. The greatest threat to butterflies is habitat loss due to residential and commercial development. Climate change, widespread pesticide use, and invasive species are also threatening many species of butterflies, because of impacts on the native host plants they depend on. You can help butterflies by planting native plants in your yard! Each butterfly species needs specific host plants to eat as caterpillars. They also require plants that provide nectar as adults. You can visit the Environmental Nature Center at 1601 E. 16th Street in Newport Beach on weekends from 10AM to 3PM. On warm sunny days you’re likely to see butterflies along with a number of birds and other native wildlife.
The Butterfly House is open intermittently. Be sure to call before coming. In the Spring and Summer there are PLENTY in the Center (along the trails) on warm, sunny days, so please visit between 10AM and 3PM on Saturday or Sunday to see them flying wild and free!
The House is frequently in use for our scheduled programs. Please call before coming if you plan to bring more than a few people with you, as there is limited space in the House. Note that if the weather is cold or overcast, the butterflies may be significantly less active. You may want to check our weather before coming.
Interested in learning about the butterflies and plants living in the Butterfly House? Download the guides:
Whats going on with monarchs and milkweed and OE?
We created a webpage with links to lots of great articles about this topic. Check out this great Oe Fact Sheet!. Check more out HERE! HERE is a great webinar about Oe and tropical milkweed.
What butterflies are in the Butterfly House?
The ENC’s Butterfly House is the only one of its kind in Orange County. Throughout the season, it is home to several butterfly species native to Orange County, including Mourning Cloak, Lorquin’s Admiral, Monarch, Queen, Buckeye, West Coast Lady, Painted Lady, California Dogface (our state butterfly), Cloudless Sulphur and Anise Swallowtail.
What kinds of plants are in the Butterfly House?
ENC staff and volunteers planted Orange County native host and nectar plants for the native Orange County butterflies that live within the Butterfly House. Host plants are munched by caterpillars; nectar plants provide nectar to the adult butterflies.
How can I help monarchs and other butterflies?
Plant native plants! Why plant Native Plants? To create butterfly habitat in your yard. Here is an extremely thorough list of plants that are host plants for Orange County Native Butterflies. Here is some important information about milkweed. Here is information about why it is important to only grow NATIVE milkweed. Here is a great article about how planting non-native milkweed could be harmful to monarchs.
Do you sell caterpillars?
No. We do not promote the purchase of butterflies, larvae or any wild animals. Releasing captive bred butterflies into the wild can spread diseases to natural populations. It can inappropriately mix genetically distinct populations of the same species. It can disrupt the migratory behavior of native butterflies. It can confuse scientific studies of butterfly migrations.
How can I rear monarch butterflies?
A group of ten monarch researchers and conservationists from across the U.S. have issued a statement highlighting concerns with the release of mass-reared monarch butterflies and recommended against the practice. More info HERE. And HERE is another article about a scientific study that suggests rearing migratory butterflies may do more harm than good. Still want to help? Monarch Health is a citizen science project in which volunteers sample wild monarch butterflies to help track the spread of a protozoan parasite across North America. If you’ve done your research and you still want to rear monarchs – and you want to follow protocols for safe rearing and collect data on your reared monarchs… click HERE.
Can I release my butterflies into the Butterfly House?
Sorry, no. Releasing YOUR captive bred butterflies could spread diseases to OUR captive bred butterflies.
Where can I catch butterflies?
Nets and collection containers are not allowed at the ENC (or in most natural areas). Photographing a live butterfly in nature can be more challenging than netting one, and you can keep your “collection” in a photo album!
Tell me about monarch migration.
Monarchs to the west of the Rocky Mountains overwinter along the Pacific coastline of California and move inland in the spring to reproduce. East of the Rocky Mountains, monarchs migrate to Mexico and hibernate in oyamel fir trees. To learn more about the amazing Eastern Monarch Migration, read THIS GREAT ESSAY from Raised in Captivity by Marty Thompson Arnold. To read the novel, visit Amazon.com or order a copy from your favorite local bookstore. Also available in Kindle and ebook.
Who made the Butterfly House possible?
The Butterfly House was made possible by a gift from the Rotary Club of Okazaki South in Japan and the Rotary Club of Newport Balboa as a joint centennial community service project. Additional funding was received from Pacific Life Foundation and Home Depot. Thank you!