MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

May 8, 2014

Butterflies bring spring with them

Dozens in 26 varieties coming to Papilion for celebration

Butterflies will begin a new season Saturday at the Honor Height Park Papilion.

And this year, they’ll have company.

From Saturday through Columbus Day, the Papilion’s Butterfly House will be the open-air home of at least 26 varieties of butterflies. That’s 19 more species than last year, said Robin Aguirre, the Papilion’s horticulture and zoological technician.

An opening celebration for the butterflies’ return is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The celebration will include music from the Hilldale High School Choir, the Spotlight Rising Stars, and Pershing Elementary third-grader Josephine Morris.

“Kristi Newell and her daughter will be down here doing butterfly- and garden-oriented children’s crafts,” said Trudy Sudberry, the president of Friends of Honor Heights Park.

Smiley the Clown will make balloon butterflies, she said.

“The significance of this weekend is that we are open from Mother’s Day to Columbus Day,” Sudberry said, referring to the Butterfly House.

The Papilion will celebrate Mother’s Day from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday with free admission for all mothers. The first 60 mothers to visit will receive a flower. The Mother’s Day event also will feature a string quartet.

Papilion Manager Kathy Coburn said Georgia-Pacific is underwriting part of the weekend celebration. In exchange, Georgia-Pacific employees and their families will have free admission this weekend, she said.

Sudberry said the whole weekend is intended to kick off the season and encourage people to visit.

Between 200 and 300 butterflies will fill the Butterfly House this year, said Karen Jones, the assistant operations manager at the Papilion. Although most came from a farm in Florida, a couple of dozen were grown at Muskogee Public Schools’ Early Childhood Center, Jones said.

“The Papilion’s significance in this community is to have an awareness of butterflies, particularly monarchs,” Jones said.

A Papilion brochure shows pictures of each variety featured at the Butterfly House. Returning butterflies include the monarch, giant swallowtail, painted lady and black swallowtail.

New butterflies include the black-and-white-striped zebra swallowtail, bright orange Julia Jeliconian and the yellow cloudless sulfur.

The sulfurs and swallowtails aren’t the only things new at the Papilion.

Volunteers with the OSU Extension’s Master Gardener program have spent the past week filling raised flower beds with blooms.

Each flower bed will have its own theme, Jones said.

Last year’s Bedlam rivalry between University of Oklahoma red flowers and Oklahoma State University orange has been replaced, she said. This year, one bed will feature white, black and Rougher green for Muskogee High School and another will feature black, white and red for Hilldale, Jones said. There also will be beds featuring native Oklahoma plants, grasses and unusual plants.

Coming events at the Papilion include yoga on the lawn every Thursday in May and butterfly camps June 3, 11 and 19.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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