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Wildlife Programs: Butterflies and Moths
Habitat for Butterflies
The Wildflower Garden that surrounds the Visitors Center is a natural magnet for butterflies and moths. The diversity of plantings privides nectar and shelter for many species of butterflies including: Fritillary, Skipper, Sulpher, Swallowtail and the commonly-recognized Monarch.
According to an article by Dr. Will Witte, Retired Professor of the UT Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Department, the requirements for a butterfly garden include sunshine, shelter from winds, a diversity of plants to provide for a long blooming season, plentiful nectar, a mud puddle or water fountain, the total (or nearly-total) absence of pesticides, and weedy areas for the caterpillars. Recommended plants include: butterfly bush, thistle, ironweed, bee balm, honeysuckle, garden phlox, milkweed, buttonbush, hibiscus, and clethra. The Arboretum Wildflower Garden has many of these plants plus others known to attract butterflies.
To view photos of some of these wildflowers, click the "Visitors Center Wildflower Garden" link on the Photo Gallery web page or print a Wildflower Garden List. Learn to identify butterflies and moths on naturalist, Kris Light's web site.
Projects and Educational Outreach
A project sponsored by the UT Arboretum Society is the creation of a Monarch Waystation. The Waystation is a program of the Monarch Watch Organization with a mission to create, conserve, and protect monarch habitats. The necessary habitat includes the milkweed plant which grows near the north entrance of the Visitors Center.
The UT Arboretum Society hosts an annual "MOTH-ers Night Out" held in and around the Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Visitors Center. The informative event is led by Kris Light, Naturalist and Photographer, which features an interpretive PowerPoint program and an exciting field exercise focusing on drawing moths and other nighttime insects into a special lit observation area. The event traditionally draws many visitors of all ages from Oak Ridge and the surrounding East Tennessee area.