The Latest “Nature Next Door” column

   The NJMC's Jim Wright writes a regular nature column for The South Bergenite. His latest column is on the new butterfly guide.

  Butterflies are part of summer’s wonders, but most of us know so little about them. Besides the ever-popular orange-and-black monarch, how many species can you name or identify?
  The answer for most of us is probably “a few” at best.
   To help improve that situation – and to increase the public’s appreciation of these delicate winged marvels — the  New Jersey Meadowlands Commission has just published a new “Butterflies of DeKorte Park” guide.
   IMG_7153-1 The free pamphlet features color photos of 18 species of butterflies and two species of moths — all commonly seen in the Lyndhurst park and environs. Also featured are brief sections on butterfly basics, advice on watching butterflies, helpful Internet links and useful butterfly guidebooks for this region.
   What’s so special about butterflies?  As the pamphlet explains, “People associate these captivating insects with a beautiful summer’s day, and for good reason: Butterflies, flowers and sunshine just seem to go together.
   "If you see a butterfly, chances are you’re in a pretty good place – a spot that is sunny and warm, with blossoming flowers nearby. Small wonder that butterflies might just be the world’s most popular bugs.”

   The brochure also includes descriptions of the Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz Butterfly Garden in DeKorte Park, which, like the guide suggests, is usually sunny and warm and full of colorful flowers. It also points out other nearby butterfly hotspots.       IMG_2664
    The new butterfly guide is just one part of a larger Meadowlands Commission effort to connect North Jerseyans with these ephemeral fliers. This spring, NJMC landscape specialists converted two swaths of parkland into meadows, planting milkweed and other vegetation that attracts butterflies. 

  In addition, the Meadowlands Commission is joining forces with the Bergen County Audubon Society and the North Jersey Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association to host a Butterfly Day at DeKorte Park on Sunday, July 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
   The event is designed for families and offers a hands-on chance to learn more about these small marvels. The celebration will feature guided butterfly walks, nifty door prizes, contests, and exhibits where you can learn about plants that will attract butterflies to your own backyard.
    So far, this looks to be a great year for papillons.  With the early spring, we are seeing more varieties and sooner in the season than we have the past couple of years – from red admirals and eastern tailed-blues to silver-spotted skippers and eastern tiger swallowtails.  Occasionally, we're lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird clear-winged moth zipping by.

   But you don’t have to wait to the end of July to enjoy DeKorte Park and its natural wonders. The park is open from 8 a.m. to dusk daily.   
   Next time: All about the Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz Butterfly Garden.
      NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright maintains the Commission’s daily nature blog, – featuring beautiful photography and the latest info on the region’s abundant natural wonders.  

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