The Naturescape Activity Center in Blanco State Park continues to evolve. The latest addition is the butterfly garden, which volunteers planted in late Spring with many native varieties of milkweed and nectar plants. Butterflies were fluttering throughout the garden even as the plants were being put in the ground! These native plants will provide nutrition and energy to butterflies in their mature stages, and will also provide a place for butterflies to lay their eggs. Additionally, the native milkweed will provide a critical eating source for monarch butterflies, which need milkweed to eat in the caterpillar stage. The butterfly garden will be used to demonstrate the importance of native plants to the life cycle of butterflies as well as other wildlife species. Plants for the garden were provided by the Fredericksburg Native Plant Society as a part of the “Bring Back the Monarchs” program. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped to make the butterfly garden a reality.
Butterflies are not the only ones enjoying the skies around Blanco State Park. Throughout the summer, at least four species of swallows are seen regularly: the barn swallow, the purple martin, the cliff swallow, and the cave swallow. The cliff and cave swallows are often found nesting under the bridges, while the purple martins are usually seen in the man-made martin houses in the park. As the name suggests, the barn swallows typically prefer the eaves of man-made structures. Treat yourself to nature by coming to Blanco State Park to enjoy their aerial displays as the swallows capture flying insects or dip in the river for water in graceful swooping flight.
Birds at Breakfast – July 6, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Nature Walk – July 12, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Invasive Plant Removal – July 18, 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Nature Walk – July 26, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
This monthly column is brought to you by the Friends of Blanco State Park, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and protecting the park’s natural beauty for current enjoyment and that of future generations. It is easy to become a member of the Friends group. Just pick up a membership application at the park office, join us at one of our events, or call the park office at 830-833-4333.
Did you know…….? Texas provides critical habitat on the primary migration pathway of monarch butterflies, which migrate north in the Spring and return through Texas in the Fall to their wintering grounds in Mexico. The monarchs have dropped to record lows in recent years, with fewer than 3 million butterflies reaching their wintering grounds in Mexico in 2013 compared to 60 million the previous year. Many factors have contributed to their demise, including the loss of milkweed and native plants that are critical to their survival. You can help the monarchs by planting native milkweed and nectar plants and by maintaining those types of native plants that grow naturally on your property.