Wildlife rehabilitators are committed to the treatment and subsequent release of native wildlife in need. Certified rehabilitators, like Ms. Garcia, are specially trained to care for injured animals that are not accustomed to human interaction and should not be kept as pets.
Formerly a Licensed Vocational Nurse, Garcia came to work at the National Butterfly Center more than three years ago when she decided to take a break from working with human patients. In her current position, the nursing education she received and skills she’s developed over years of practice are particularly valuable, as every call for assistance requires an assessment of the animal’s general health, level of trauma and likelihood of survival.
(Mission, TX) – You're invited to Spike's birthday party, Saturday, December 10, at 10 AM, at the National Butterfly Center! A yearlong resident of the garden, Spike is a giant African Spurred Tortoise, whose birthday we celebrate at the anniversary of his adoption.
Abandoned after 10 years when his boy went to college, Spike was picked up by Animal Control and surrendered to a local sanctuary. The sanctuary owner first suggested Spike come to live at the National Butterfly Center, where he has become the official spokes-tortoise for the facility and a very large part of their youth education and wildlife conservation programs.
“We call Spike 'the world's most spectacular non-butterfly',” states Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center. “He's huge and very friendly, so everyone loves him. He enjoys all the attention he receives, here, and he's an excellent visual aid for teaching children all the things that butterflies have in common with reptiles, and why South Texas is home to so many of both!”
(Mission, TX) – Selected from among hundreds of beautiful images, Juniper Hairstreak on Milkweed, by Julie Shaw of Austin, was named the ‘Rio Grande Prix’ winner of the North American Butterfly Photo Contest, at the 21st Annual Texas Butterfly Festival, which takes place at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, each year.
This picture netted $500 for Mrs. Shaw, who says she will buy another lens for herself, or perhaps a camera for her husband with her winnings. “He is not really into butterflies,” explains Shaw. “He prefers hiking, but I like to poke around in the bushes and this slows him down. Maybe now I can convince him to join me!”
Shaw’s path to wildlife photography has been a winding one. About six years ago, Shaw started volunteering at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where she worked in the insectary. Her job involved finding, collecting and tending to caterpillars raised for public viewing, so visitors may witness various stages in the butterfly lifecycle. Although she’d worked in garden centers and enjoyed gardening before, she says her experience at the Wildflower Center really opened her eyes. It was here that she began photographing butterflies with her iPhone so she could identify them in her field guide at home.
(Mission, TX) – In support of Texas’ first, statewide Pollinator BioBlitz, the National Butterfly Center will be hosting a variety of programs to get people outdoors to observe pollinators of all types in yards, natural areas, gardens, parks and community centers. This intensive week of citizen-driven data collection will occur October 7 – 16, 2016, in an effort to bring attention to the critical habitat needs of Monarchs and other pollinators across the state.
The BioBlitz is designed to be fun for all ages, with no experience required. Participants are simply asked to look for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and moths, and nectar-producing plants; photograph or take video of them; and share their discoveries online via Instagram, using the hashtag #SaveThePollinators. Plant and insect species may be difficult to identify, so observers are encouraged to post what they know. For example, “Small bee on sunflower at Bryan Elementary, Mission,” is fine. More experienced naturalists are asked to record their observations through the iNaturalist application. There is no cost to participate and the only tools needed are a camera or smart phone, plus Internet access.
I’ve never seen so many Mexican Bluewings!
This iconic species—the emblem of the National Butterfly Center—has erupted in unprecedented numbers, this year. We interpret this phenomenon to be a good sign, both an omen of abundance and affirmation of our work.
We’re often reminded that our gardens are one great, big experiment. For this reason, our fortunes are not assured. With regard to butterfly gardening, the formula is supposed to be pretty simple: Plant the appropriate hosts and nectar, and they will come; but this wholesale habitat restoration and enrichment project is a bit trickier. What to plant where and why? Can we buy it or go find it growing wild? If we get it will it cooperate with our soil, tolerate our water? What about our pairings and predation? After all, we want our eggs, caterpillars and butterflies to have strong odds against all the wasps, beetles, frogs, birds and other wildlife that find suitable breeding and feeding areas in our plantings. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. Still, the bluewings seem to be celebrating a victory of sorts; so I’ll gladly take getting hit in the face by one as a ‘high five’ for a job well done!