Jim Wright, who keeps this blog for the Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice-monthly column for the South Bergenite. His latest is on the continuing butterfly season and the wonderful Kearny Butterfly Garden:
The Meadowlands Commission’s Fifth Annual Butterfly Day at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst in late July was a big hit. More than 700 people — mostly families — enjoyed watching and learning about nearly 20 species of these graceful creatures.
But butterfly season didn’t end with Butterfly Day. DeKorte Park is still getting a nice variety of species daily — including a mourning cloak that magically appeared the morning after the event. (Perhaps it marked the wrong date on the calendar.)
Last week, toward the end of a bird walk at DeKorte Park, a nature group stopped by Jill’s Garden to see what was fluttering about.
The short answer was: quite a lot in a short amount of time. In a matter of minutes, we saw a red admiral, eastern tiger swallowtail, black swallowtail, silver-spotted skipper, broad-winged skipper, Peck’s skipper and monarchs, as well as an over-caffeinated clear-wing moth.
The monarchs were an especially welcome sight, as their populations have been in steep decline in recent years due to habitat loss. (Hint: Please plant more milkweed in your garden.)
Overall, this year has been an unpredictable one for butterflies. The number of species seems to be up, but the numbers of butterflies themselves appear a bit lower.
Some butterfly aficionados believe the season is later this year because of our long and cold winter, so perhaps the numbers will pick up.
But you don’t have to visit DeKorte to see wonderful butterflies and clear-wing moths nearby.
The Kearny Butterfly Garden, at 475 Passaic Avenue (part of the town’s string of green space along the Passaic River) is a delightful mix of butterfly-friendly milkweed, other native plants and butterfly bushes — those big flowery plants that live up to their name.
The three-year-old garden is the brainchild of David and Jenny Mach,
who attended a workshop for public school educators on how to use Monarchs to teach everything from biology to geography.
“We realized that having a butterfly garden in Kearny would be an excellent resource for our school system,” says David. “We were thinking of planting milkweed in an unused lot in Kearny, but when we spoke with members of the town board, they suggested a more suitable piece of land. The town later helped add flowers, a fence, and a water source.”
For David, the best part of the garden is “strolling inside, surrounded by hundreds of sweet smelling flowers while gazing at butterflies, forgetting for a moment that you are in an urban North Jersey landscape.”
He and Jenny also enjoy leading the mini-biology lessons for schoolchildren: “Instead of seeing bugs as something gross, kids are learning that insects are fascinating, beautiful creatures that should be respected and enjoyed.”
The Kearny Butterfly Garden is open dawn to dusk 365 days a year. The garden’s Facebook page is: facebook.com/KearnyButterflyGarden.