Our Latest South Bergenite Column: Butterflies!

Jim Wright, who keeps this blog for the Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice monthly nature column for The South Bergenite. Here is his latest, on Butterfly Month at DeKorte Park.

This Sunday, the Meadowlands Commission is officially kicking off Butterfly Month at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst with a free “Butterflies for Beginners” talk and walk, but we have been getting ready for months.

Butterflies are beautiful, ephemeral creatures, and you never really know whether it will be a good year for them until spring and summer unfold. But you can take several steps to improve your odds, and — with the help of the Bergen County Audubon Society — that’s exactly what we have been doing.

While Jill’s Butterfly Garden just outside the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte Park remains the crown jewel and main attraction for butterfly aficionados, we have been adding all sorts of butterfly-friendly native plants, including milkweed and mountain mint, in the park and nearby Harrier Meadow.

Full story follows.

What’s more, we have a brand-new native plant garden for birds and butterflies near the AmVets Carillon on Disposal Road.  

IMG_3043Funding for the new garden comes from the Meadowlands Marsh Hawks World Series of Birding money-raising effort, and from the Bergen County Audubon Society. The Meadowlands Commission paid for any additional plantings that were needed.

In addition, the BCAS folks dropped off a truckload of native plants for the garden last month as part of a joint venture with the Teaneck Garden Club. BCAS planted 500 native shrubs at the Garden Club, and the group has cared for them until the BCAS could move them to conservation projects like the one at DeKorte.

The Meadowlands Commission's Parks Department provided the design for the new garden, with plantings that include bayberry, buttonbush, and spicebush. Certain plants are host plants for certain butterflies, so the more diverse the plantings, the more diverse the butterflies.

It’s hard to say how long it will take for all these new plantings to bear fruit, so to speak, but we are optimistic — and heartened by the thought that the garden will help raise the public’s awareness on how they can make their own backyards more butterfly-friendly.

This Sunday’s butterfly event is designed for folks who’d like to learn more about the butterflies of DeKorte Park and the best places to see them. The program begins at 1 p.m. in the Meadowlands Environment Center, where I will present a slide show featuring more than a dozen butterflies and a couple of awesome moths I photographed nearby.

After whetting your interest in these amazing creatures, we’ll take a walk and see how many different species we can find.

The big event is our third Annual Butterfly Day, which runs on Sunday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event features butterfly walks, native plant walks, scavenger hunts for kids, information booths and some cool door prizes — free NJMC pontoon-boat cruises on the Hackensack River.

And I’ll be posting butterfly sightings on our nature blog all summer long.


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