One of the main attractions at Tunkhannock’s Creekside Gardens this summer has been its Butterfly House.
Launched in March, the butterfly house attracts local and out-of-town visitors.
“It’s a fun time of year,” said Creekside’s Sherri Kukuchka.
Creekside’s handmade Monarch butterfly garden is home to approximately 600 of the pumpkin-colored Monarchs.
“It’s basically a large wood timber frame. Almost like framework for a house,” explained Kukuchka. “We have fixtures that hold shade cloth which acts as a screen.”
The official butterfly season is from the end of June until mid-September when Creekside celebrates the Monarch’s migration to Mexico.
“It’s the longest insect migration in this part of the world,” said Kukuchka.
And, Creekside will be doing its part with its 5th Annual Butterfly Release on Saturday, Sept. 13.
There are four releases held on that Saturday: they start at noon, with others at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Creekside creates a serene, picturesque habitat for the butterflies until they are safely released for their migration.
“They are really in trouble, their habitat is just disappearing. There’s a tremendous habitat that’s not there,” Kukuchka said.
Monarchs encounter many obstacles in nature and their numbers have dramatically dropped due to pesticides being sprayed on the plants they eat and the destruction of their ecosystem.
Only two percent of Monarch eggs that are laid in the wild manage to survive.
At Creekside the butterflies are protected from when they enter the caterpillar nursery as a crysallis to adulthood when they embark on their one-way trip to Mexico.
The butterflies come to Creekside from the Folk Butterfly farm in Nescopeck. “We have a complete habitat for Monarchs, everything they need to complete their life cycle,” added Kukuchka.
The butterfly house tour allows children and adults to watch the monarchs thrive in their natural habitat free from predators.
It’s likely that a butterfly will take a rest on someone’s shoulder in between snacking on the milkweed plants and pieces of fresh fruit that are here-and-there around the path.
“They’re very delicate but very durable,” said Creekside employee Anna Hatzos, “the migration is a pretty big thing. They (the butterflies) come as far north as Canada. Having never been to (Mexico) they know how to get there.” A pretty substantial journey for an insect that weighs less than a paper clip.
After leaving the garden Creekside asks that you check yourself in the mirror at the end of the tour for “hitchhikers” in case a butterfly wants a tour of your house!
Creating a backyard butterfly garden for the home is a very manageable task that the Creekside staff would happily help anyone get started with.
“Any type of structure you could screen in. You can get a butterfly castle that almost looks like a pop-up laundry basket. You definitely need a lot of light,” Kukuchka said as she explained how to go about building a habitat for butterflies.
In order to attract butterflies to a garden one needs a host plant, the host plant for a Monarch is milkweed.
Creekside offers an instruction sheet on creating a butterfly garden complete with host plant suggestions, a list of nectar plants, and what to plant to provide shade.
“I think it’s a wonderful experience for kids to interact with nature as a close level. It’s like you’re in your own backyard, and it’s really nice to educate people about Monarchs,” said Creekside employee Julie Novack.
The rain date for the release is Sunday, Sept. 14.