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Butterflies bring colorful display back to Stan Hywet

7/11/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Visitors to Stan Hywet’s butterfly habitat can enjoy seeing the insects up close, as shown above.
Stan Hywet staff added signage to indicate the plants at the butterfly habitat to help visitors learn more about plants that attract the insects to gardens.
WEST AKRON — The Butterfly Habitat at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is back, giving visitors of all ages a chance to get up close to the colorful winged insects.

“When you’re in the parks or your back yard, you see them flitting by, and it’s really difficult to get an up-close and personal view of them,” said Toivo Motter, Stan Hywet’s director of education. “One of the ways we are able to encourage this of our guests is to look at them feeding naturally on host plants when they are caterpillars or adults when on nectaring plants.”

Visiting Beauty in Flight: Butterflies of North America provides a way for visitors to learn more about the life cycle of butterflies, which are an important part of the ecosystem, Motter said.

“They are pollinators, just like honeybees,” he said. “And they are very important food for our songbirds. They are pretty to look at, but also serve an important role.”

The Butterfly Habitat is located in the same spot as it was last year, next to the Corbin Conservatory in a hoop house. The butterfly exhibit returned last season. Several years ago, Stan Hywet housed non-native species in a summer exhibit in the conservatory.

The butterfly species now part of the exhibit are native to the region. And because the exhibit features plants that can grow in Northeast Ohio, those who view the exhibit can learn about how to attract butterflies in their own yards, Motter said.

Like last year, Stan Hywet has partnered with Metro Parks, Serving Summit County for the exhibit. Volunteer naturalists from the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm are on hand to provide answers to questions that visitors have. In addition, volunteers who are taking part in naturalist training through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park also are assisting, Motter said.

Beauty in Flight: Butterflies of North America at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is located in a hoop house adjacent to the Corbin Conservatory.
Photos courtesy of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
“They are informal interpreters,” Motter said. “They have at their disposal books and field guides and other manipulatives, examples of things like the butterfly life cycle in magnet form. Adults and kids can be quizzed to see what comes first — the pupa or the egg.”

Also available to use are magnifying glasses to look at eggs and caterpillars up close and “butterfly eyes” to see how an insect sees.

This year, Stan Hywet staff also has added more signage so the exhibit can be self-guided. Also added were labels to the plants so visitors can learn more about the varieties that attract butterflies.

The exhibit is more than just educational, Motter said.

“It’s very Zen-like and comforting and relaxing,” he said. “It’s a really neat experience, and I know there are very few places that have these kinds of things out there. It’s one of those things you don’t really understand and appreciate until you are here.”

The exhibit will be on view until cooler weather arrives, usually September, Motter said.

The Butterfly Habitat is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is included in a Gardens & Grounds admission ($10 for adults and $4 for youths ages 6-17) and is free to members. Stan Hywet is located at 714 N. Portage Path. For more information, call 330-836-5533 or go to www.stanhywet.org.

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