(Mission, TX) – Bats are beneficial to our neighborhoods and the health of our communities, but they are all too often misunderstood and villainized. Of the more than 1,100 species of bats in the world, only three are vampire bats; the rest consume fruit and insects. In fact, a single bat can consume up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour!
Most prevalent in the Rio Grande Valley are the Mexican Free-tailed bats. These highly social creatures like to reside in colonies and communal roosts. Whether it’s a mother and her pups or a bunch of bachelors, this mammal finds warmth and protection in group homes; so you may entice them to take up residence in your yard by providing appropriate shelter.
The National Butterfly Center is hosting a bat education and house-building workshop on Saturday, February 27, from 10 AM – 12 PM. Everyone is invited to join graduate student Katharine Jones in the Chrysalis Visitor’s Pavilion to learn all about the good, the bad and the glorious aspects of these fascinating creatures!
(Mission, TX) – Preparations are well underway for the 20th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival! Many field trips have already sold out and limited space remains for educational sessions and excursions designed specifically for butterfly enthusiasts of every experience level! Everyone is invited to join in this seasonal celebration of the Rio Grande Valley’s exceptional bounty of butterflies, regardless of age or familiarity with the outdoors.
This year, the festival’s free, open house event, known as Community Day at the National Butterfly Center, will take place on Halloween, Saturday, October 31, from 9am – 2pm. Later in the evening, festival registrants will be treated to a Welcome Reception and Orientation, before they embark on three days of expert-guided field trips to secret gardens and public parks, renowned places and hard-to-find hot spots, from Falcon Dam to South Padre Island. To ensure your seat for these educational sessions, excursions and activities, one must reserve seats in advance at www.TexasButterflyFestival.com.
(Mission, TX) – Starting Tuesday, September 1, the North American Butterfly Photo Contest invites you to submit your best photos of wild, free-flying butterflies, for a chance to win the $500 ‘Rio Grande Prix’! Part of the 20th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival, this contest is open to everyone and accepts digital photos of live butterflies taken from October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015. It’s easy to enter and the winning photograph will be prominently displayed at the National Butterfly Center and online, for the whole world to see.
“Thanks to our camera phones, anyone can capture amazing images,” states Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, host of the Texas Butterfly Festival, “And some butterflies can be remarkably cooperative subjects. They may be found in backyards and parks, green spaces and wild places, so you don’t have to go far to enjoy them. We want to encourage people to see how accessible nature is and how rewarding nature photography can be. You don’t have to be a professional or own lots of expensive equipment to get that one great shot—a prize-winning shot—that tells a story or exposes a hidden world. In fact, past winners have included a medical practice manager and an electrical engineer.
(Mission, TX) – The National Butterfly Center and the Upper Valley Art League announce Art in the Park, a summer program for artists of all ages in the Rio Grande Valley.
From June 6 – August 21, 2015, the gardens and grounds at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, will be open at no charge to members of the Upper Valley Art League for plein aire painting, sketching and photography. Works produced on site or in the studio from field studies and observations in the outdoors may be entered into the juried competition and show for the chance to win scholarships and prizes.
All who are interested are encouraged to attend the kick-off event for this program at the National Butterfly Center at 9 AM, Saturday, June 6. A guided tour of the property will be provided at this time, along with instructions for participants and deadlines for the contest.
(Mission, TX) – This week, record U.S. sightings of butterflies have been reported at the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas. Specifically, the 2nd sighting on record of a Red-sided Swallowtail (Mimoides phaon)came from Dan Jones, on May 19; and Mike Rickard recorded the 3rd sighting of a Dusted Spurwing (Antigonus erosus).These subtropical butterflies of Mexico are considered “strays” to the United States. The Red-sided Swallowtail, for example, belongs to the Sierra Madre Oriental and ranges up to the southern state of Nuevo Leon.
Although several species of large, mostly-black swallowtails may be found in the Rio Grande Valley, Dan Jones knew he’d spotted something special when this one flew past him in the gardens on Tuesday.