North American Butterfly Photo Contest Opens September 1
(Mission, TX) The North American Butterfly Photo Contest invites you to submit your best photos of free-flying butterflies, for a chance to win the $500 ‘Rio Grande Prix’! Part of the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival, this contest is open to everyone in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and accepts digital photos of live butterflies taken from October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014. It’s easy to enter and the winning photograph will be prominently displayed at the National Butterfly CenterTM and online, for the whole world to see.
Grab your camera—or phone—and go chase butterflies!” states Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, host of the Texas Butterfly Festival, “You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get that one great shot and win cash in this contest. Even last year’s winner got lucky, when we unexpectedly captured two butterflies in one frame for the fascinating image that won over the judges.”
(Mission, TX) It’s time, again, for the Mission-McAllen Butterfly Count, Sunday, July 20!
Each July, volunteers across the country brave the sweltering summer sun to count butterflies. The data these citizen-conservationists gather provides a valuable, real-time snapshot for scientists, naturalists, and anyone concerned about environmental change, habitat loss, and disappearing or endangered species.
The count on Sunday, July 20, is the ‘Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley Count’, coordinated by the National Butterfly Center. This annual survey of species variety and volume inside a 15-mile radius is conducted by knowledgeable, local butterfly enthusiasts, covering public and private properties. The information collected is catalogued by the North American Butterfly Association and used for a multitude of research, education and conservation projects.
(Mission, TX) – It’s time to take advantage of a great offer from the National Butterfly Center (NBC) and plant for pollinators, this summer. Saturday, June 28, from 9am – 1pm, the nursery at the NBC will have a ‘buy 4 get 1 free’ sale on all of their flowering native plants and trees, so you can start or augment your own drought-hearty garden.
“Our nursery currently features about sixty varieties of Rio Grande Valley native plant species, including several kinds of milkweed,” states Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of this 100 acre nature reserve. “Many of the plants we produce are host plants for butterflies, which means these plants will be devoured by caterpillars if you are lucky! The plants are designed for this and bounce back after fulfilling their purpose in the butterfly’s life cycle, so there is no need to worry. We also have plants like Turk’s Cap and Coral Bean to attract hummingbirds to your yard.”
(Mission, TX) – The National Butterfly Center is growing, with three construction projects this summer! We will remain open throughout this process, and encourage the public to visit often while we build the Texas Butterfly Gardens, the Texas Savannah Trails & Ayenia Refugium (TEXSTAR), and the Butterfly Conservatory & Outdoor Classroom. Altogether, these three projects represent almost $500,000 in added features that will benefit native plants, wildlife and all of our guests.
“Expanding the gardens at the National Butterfly Center fulfills our mission in multiple ways,” explains Marianna Trevino Wright, Executive Director. “I laughingly tell people the more we plant the longer they stay; but the truth is the more we plant, the more butterflies, caterpillars and birds we have and the greater our value proposition is for visitors. After all, the gardens are intended to be beautiful and educational.”
More than ten years ago, the “old” research gardens were planted at what was called the NABA International Butterfly Park. At that time, native plants that produce nectar for butterflies or make good food for caterpillars were sought out, collected and propagated for this colorful, wonderful test of If you build it, they will come. And come, they did; millions upon millions of them—and more than 200 species! As a result, the National Butterfly Center was recently named one of the ‘Top Gardens in Texas’ by the San Antonio Express-News.
As first published in American Butterflies, Spring 2014
By Marianna Trevino Wright, Executive Director, National Butterfly Center
Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, my childhood days involved catching Texas Horned Toads, digging up creatures that looked like Naked Mole Rats, and chasing Indigo snakes off the patio with my grandfather. Occasionally, we'd catch a turtle in the canal, and keep it for a week or two; or find an owl in the barn. Once there was even a rattlesnake curled up under my bedside table.
Flocks of green parrots, angry Mockingbirds, and families of armadillos inhabited our twelve acres on the outskirts of McAllen. Here we kept a few horses and cattle, along with my mother's pet donkey, Frankie, and the pig she gave my dad for Father's Day. At the ranch, there were coyotes, deer and javelina; all of which my brothers dressed in the yard. It was a wild and magical way to grow up—full of close encounters—where my natural curiosity was rarely the subject of parental supervision.