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MISSION — The 15th annual Texas Butterfly Festival, held Oct. 28-31, will include the dedication and grand opening of the new visitors pavilion at the National Butterfly Park.
The building has 5,000 square feet of office space with an exhibition area. Architect Chris Cooper of Wendy Evans Joseph Architecture in New York City has been in the Rio Grande Valley overseeing the final touches of construction and getting the building ready for the event.
“We will be ready to go on the day of the event,” said Cooper, who was at the facility looking at final construction details recently. “We will be adding some finishing touches such as landscaping before the big day.”
The facility is surrounded by two-acres of land and gardens dedicated to butterflies, which will be developed once construction on the building is complete. Each garden will have host plants needed for growth of butterfly eggs, caterpillars and pupas and the food source the butterflies need to sustain themselves.
The plants are not selected to be a botanical park appealing to visitors for their beauty, they’ll be chosen to meet the needs of the butterflies. When completed, there will be about 90 gardens, each dedicated to the needs of a different butterfly known to come to the Rio Grande Valley.
“When the butterflies come to the different gardens during migration, there will be an explosion of colors,” said Cooper.
The conference is being held a little later this year to coincide with the biennial meeting of the North American Butterfly Association. Because of the increase number of people expected to attend this event, it is being headquartered out of Cimarron.
For many coming from other locations this will be not only the butterflies of Tropical Texas but many butterflies normally found only in northeastern Mexico as many of them, such as the Silver-winged Emperor, have found the National Butterfly Park and decided to venture across the river, thrilling enthusiasts. This is now regularly found at the park.
On Oct. 28, at 5:30 p.m. after the grand opening, the Mission Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a welcoming reception at their new offices. At 7:30 p.m. a program on the butterflies of the Rio Grande Valley will be presented.
The following day at 8 a.m. will kick off the weekend with three concurrent workshops including butterfly gardening, photography and identifying butterflies. Field trips begin at 9:15 a.m. and last until 5:30 p.m. At 6 p.m. there will be a social hour and book signing and exhibits will be open. That evening, Dr. Larry Gilbert will speak on the “Ecological Perspectives on Butterfly Movements in Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico.”
Oct. 30 starts off with the same three workshops at 8 a.m. and field trips. At 7 p.m. a banquet will be held with Dr. Dick Vane-Wright as featured speaker. His topic is “Butterfly Biology, Behaviour, Evolution and Human Attitudes Toward Nature.”
On Oct. 31, the final day of the event, field trips begin at 8:30 a.m. with field trips and the event ends with a final meeting at 2:30 p.m.
While there have been over 300 species of butterflies spotted in the Rio Grande Valley, up to 150 of those species can only be found here including the Red-border Pixies, Mexican Bluewings, Bordered Patches, and two-barred Flashers. Other species spotted here include Ruby-spotted Swallowtails, Cyna Blue, Malachite, Gray Cracker and Guava Skippers.
Before the event, there are two additional opportunities to see butterflies. On Oct. 27, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., a butterfly count will be held at the butterfly garden surrounding the headquarters of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park/World Birding Center. While the actual park is still closed due to flooding and damage caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm No. 2, the headquarters will be open and ready to host visitors.
Additionally, on Nov. 1, a post-meeting field trip to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge will be held.
At the Texas Butterfly Festival, the Mission Chamber of Commerce will host a special children’s event on Oct. 30 at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. There will be door prizes, face painting and many other activities from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 956-585-2727.
Registration for this Texas Butterfly Festival combined with the meeting of the National Butterfly Association is $275. For information contact Lisa Lewis at lewis@naba-org or call 973-285-0907. Registration forms can be found online and mailed to Lisa Lewis, NABA, 4 Delaware Rd. Morristown, NJ 07960.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.