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20131008 National-Butterfly-Center AF  2350MISSION—Butterflies can be seen flitting and fluttering through neighborhoods, across highways, and around businesses in Mission.

The months of October and November are the peak of butterfly season, according to the National Butterfly Center Executive Director Marianna T. Wright. Mission is perfectly located to capture it with 150 species of butterflies that can only be found in the Valley.

“There is not anything else like this park in the country; we are the one and only,” Wright said.

The center holds its Texas Butterfly Festival from November 2-5. Wright said the 100-acre property is the perfect site to see butterflies, among other animals. She said not many people know Mission is a prime spot when looking for rare species of butterflies.

The executive director added visitors come from 17 states in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Outdoor recreation is the third largest economic driver in the U.S. economy with $646 billion in annual consumer spending, according to Wright.

According to information from the Texas Tourism Office of the Governor, in 2012 the City of Mission received $6.6 million in state tax revenue through tourism, $2.1 million in local tax revenue while creating 1,400 jobs.

Texas Butterfly Festival

The festival is scheduled to feature two dozen naturalists, authors and local experts. Keynote speakers, Michael O’ Brian and Louise Zemaitis, also will be present. On Saturday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. the center will have free admission for Community Day.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, the Big Day of Butterflying will kick off with a species count competition from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Participants will compete in a two-person team challenge.

A presentation on how to spot owls with Pat Sutton will be held Nov. 3 in the evening, and the keynote speakers and awards banquet will be held Nov. 4 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

“In addition to all of the butterflies, we’ve got lizards, snakes, South Texas mammals…all kinds of cool stuff,” Wright said. “Most of the South Texas specialty birds are in residence … since there is an enormous abundance in food.”

Some animals found in the park also are on the endangered species list for the area as well as the federal list. These animals include: Texas Horn Toad, Indigo Snake and the Texas Tortoise.

The National Butterfly Center is a project of the North American Butterfly Association. The center building has been open for three years; the park has been open for 10 years located at 3333 Butterfly Park Drive.

Registration for the Texas Butterfly Festival is now open. For more information on registration and schedules, contact the center at 583-5400.

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