What to look for in...
July and August are "prime-time" in the habitat. The mid-summer months are the peak bloom period when the bulk of our 200+ native plants and many annuals are in bloom. Warm sunny days and abundant floral resources make this the best time of year for butterfly-spotting!
What to look for...
Eastern black swallowtail (Papilo polyxenes)
At this time many adults and caterpillars may be observed in the habitat. Look for caterpillars of the eastern black swallowtail on bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) in the Pollinator Demonstration Garden - their bright color against the dark foliage makes them easy to spot!
Monarch butterflies and caterpillars
With sharp declines in monarch butterfly populations in recent years, every monarch we see feels like an occasion. Look for the yellow and black striped caterpillars on milkweed throughout the habitat.
Monarchs can be seen most often afternoon into late evening. Look for them nectaring on zinnia's and annual sunflowers, or hopefully laying eggs on some of the many milkweed plants in the habitat
Skippers, with their stout, hairy bodies are important pollinators of meadows and prairies. Skippers have larger eyes than most other butterflies with short, frequently striped antennae. Though less showy than other butterflies, they are plentiful in the summer months and easy to spot.
Birds are Nesting
The habitat’s birds are less visible now, as they protect and care for young. Listen for the cheerful call of the song sparrows, perched near their nests built amid the thick cover of vegetation.
With so much to see this time of year, be sure to use our plant, bird, and butterfly directories to make the most of your visit - and come back often!
Host Plant Highlight
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Spicebush is truly a “power plant”. Spicebush provides attractive spring blooms that are early pollen and nectar sources, glossy green foliage in summer, bright yellow foliage in fall, and red berries on female plants that feed birds. The star of the show however is the spicebush swallowtail caterpillar, if you've never seen one - you're in for a surprise! Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars have big, cartoon-like false eyes and forked tongues. The caterpillars roll themselves up in the leaves of spicebush for protection during the day. When you uncurl a leaf, revealing a caterpillar hiding inside - it will raise its head sharply and jut out its forked tongue to scare you away!