In our efforts to create the best butterfly pavilion possible, our staff has been visiting other pavilions to gather information and advice. Our most recent trip was to Canada to visit the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservancy and the Montreal Space for Life complex.
Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservancy is a spectacular example of how magical a tropical butterfly pavilion can be. Below are some photos we took!
We will be hosting a National Moth Week event with our partner, the Philadelphia Insectarium, on July 23, 2016.
National Moth Week is an annual event in which moths are observed and logged in databases such as Project Noah. Moths are important bioindicators that can signal the health of an ecosystem, so keeping track of the population and diversity of moths in an area is important.
The nation in National Moth Week isn’t specific – this year there are events in 39 countries this year! Come join us for our event, which will feature an educational talk by Dr. John Cambridge and Stommy Blauth, as well as a “mothing” experience where we will set up vapor lamps and sheets to attract and view native moths.
Construction has begun on the warehouse that will become the butterfly pavilion! Right now the construction team is in the process of removing the old roof so we can put a new roof with skylights in. These skylights will help regulate the temperature and provide natural light. In addition, several rooms have been demolished to create the entryway to the pavilion.
The Moth of the Week is the Snowberry Clearwing! Like many other moths in the Sphingidae family, it is a day-flying moth that uses a long proboscis to drink nectar. Most moths do not feed as adults, so this is very special! Since they visit flowers, the Snowberry Clearwing is a pollinator just like butterflies and bees. Its flight pattern mimics a hummingbird, giving it the nickname “hummingbird moth”. However, it is not to be confused with the European Hummingbird Moth.
This week’s Butterfly is the Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).
Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat fennel, parsley, dill, and Queen Anne’s lace. Like all swallowtail caterpillars, they have an osmeterium – a forked organ they can project at the top of their head to look like a snake’s tongue. This is mimicry, a camouflage technique in which an animal tries to look like something more dangerous. It also produces a foul smell to ward off predators.
The male and female butterflies are easy to tell apart. Males have a distinct yellow spots in a streak running across their wings. The females spots are not as distinct, but they do have a patch of blue that is more prominent than the male.
Our moth of the week is the Polyphemus Moth! The Polyphemus usually has a wingspan of about 5.5 inches, and is native to our area. Like many moths, it has a wide variety of host plants, including oak, willow, and maple. They certainly aren’t picky!
This week’s moth of the week is the Death’s-head hawkmoth. You may know this moth from the film adaption of The Silence of the Lambs.
These moths can be found in Europe and are easy to identify due to the vague skull-like marking on the thorax. All three species of this moth raid honeybee colonies. To do this they mimic the smell of bees and enter undetected.
Aside from their striking appearance, they have an unusual defense mechanism: squeaking!
You can hear it here:
This week, we have the Cecropia Moth – in honor of a male Cecropia Moth that was donated to our butterfly pavilion this morning. The Cecropia is native to our area and is in fact the largest moth species in North America, with a wingspan of 5 to 6 inches. Below is a picture of our new resident – isn’t he cute?
This week’s butterfly of the week is the monarch! The monarch butterfly is easily distinguishable with its orange-and-black wings, and is an iconic symbol of conservation. They are famous for their annual migration flight down to Mexico, which can span 1,000-3,000 miles! The monarch caterpillar feeds on common, swamp, and tropical milkweed, which is why conservationists place such a focus on planting milkweed.
Stormy’s Magical Butterflies is an upcoming butterfly pavilion located in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia, PA. We are affiliated with the Insectarium, the nation’s largest insect museum. While we are currently under construction, we invite you to keep updated on our work.
Our mission is to educate people of all ages about the importance of conserving butterflies and moths, and to promote a greater appreciation and curiosity towards insects as a whole. We strive to emphasize the importance of both native and tropical pollinators in their respective environments, and to demonstrate the beauty and purpose in these lovely creatures.
The construction of the butterfly pavilion is part of a larger renovation project taking place at the Insectarium. We hope you visit us when we open!