Leonardo's Backyard Bugs exhibit is alive! A part of the exhibit features the Oklahoma's State Butterfly, the Black Swallowtail (papilio polyxenesis). Children are able to see the life cycle from the larva stage (Caterpillar) to Chrysalis to maturity. Recently, two Black Swallowtail butterflies were released by a young guest in the garden at Adventure Quest.
The Black Swallowtail became Oklahoma's official state butterfly in 1996 and is native to the state. Butterflies are a great pollinators for native and cultivated plants and they are fun to watch. This butterfly is one of 180 different butterflies and skippers that have been counted in Oklahoma.
Butterflies are attracted to red, orange, pink, and purple flowers. They also like large petals for stability. The larva stage (Caterpillar) needs certain plants for growing and when they change into butterflies they need nectar plants. Most butterflies prefer full sun and may rest on flat stones to soak up the sun.
Another cool Oklahoma native butterfly is the Monarch. Most Monarch's live 2-6 weeks but the last Monarch life cycle of the season will travel each year to Mexico for the winter. This is an amazing migration with some Monarch's traveling 3000 miles to get to their winter destination. A single Monarch can travel 50-100 miles a day and make the entire trip in two months. Once in Mexico they rest in the Oyamel Fir Trees.
To better understand the migration process, researchers will tag Monarch butterflies and then record in Mexico ones they discover.
They are in need of help for host plants for their eggs and larva. They need milkweed to grow into butterflies. Consider planting one of the many beautiful varieties of milkweed.
Want to attract butterflies to your back yard? Here are some great plants that the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's recommends:
Nectar Plants: Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii); Glossy abelia (Abelia grandiflora); Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)*; False indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)*; Lanatana (Lantana spp.); Engelmann daisy (Engelmannia pinnatifida)*; Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)*; Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum); Blazing star (Liatris phycnostachyan)*; Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia); Pentas (Pentas lanceolata); Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)*; Showy sedum (Sedum spectabile); Snowy bergamot (Monarda didyma); Summer phlox (Phlox paniculata)*; Tuber verbena (Verbena rigida)
*Oklahoma native species
Larval host plants and butterflies attracted to them: Trumpet Honeysuckle*……….. Spring azure; Mildweed*………….Monarch, queen; Indian paintbrush …..Bucheye, fulvia checker spot; Sweet clover ………Common, alfalfa and orange sulphers, dogface butterfly; Reakirt’s and Eastern tailed blues; fairy yellow; gray hairstreak; spring azure; Lantana/Thistle#……Painted lady, American painted lady; Parsley/Dill/Carrot…..Eastern black swallowtail; Sweet Alyssum….Checkered and cabbage whites Sunflower (annual)# ……gorgone and silvery crescentspots, painted lady, American painted lady; Lamb’s Quarters*….Painted lady, common and scalloped sootywings, Western pygmy blue Violet*……Variegated and great-spangled fritillaries; American Elm*…….Question mark, mourning cloak, painted lady, comma Hackberry/Sugarberry*….Snout and hackberry, tawny emperor, mourning cloak, question mark; American Plum*….Coral and striped hairstreaks, spring azure, tiger swallowtail; Passionflower*….Gilf and varigated fritillaries; Rose of Sharon…Gray hairstreak; Hollies ..Henry’s elfin; Apple….Viceroy, red spotted purple, gray hairstreak, spring zure
*Oklahoma native species