I just returned from a far and distant land where thousands upon thousands of butterflies filled the many native plant wildlife gardens that I visited during my 10-day stay, which included the 18th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival.
Many of the butterflies were exotic (to me) southern species that just make it into the United States.
Since my first visit in 1979 to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, I’ve made 7 additional trips. That first visit in 1979 was kind of scary. It was in spring and Clay and I witnessed major fallouts of Broad-winged Hawks and other migrant birds at places like Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Exiting the refuge and looking north we cringed. Farm fields stretched as far as we could see without a tree or hedgerow in sight. How could these migrants survive once they left refuges like Santa Ana NWR?
Thirty-four years later I am hopeful and hugely impressed with favorable changes to the landscape in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, changes that include natural corridors of native plants running between many of the protected parcels. The official Birding & Butterfly Map of the Rio Grande Valley (available for free at nature centers throughout the Valley) directs visitors and residents to 86 sites, many of which have extensive butterfly gardens planted with native nectar and host plants benefiting all pollinators and attracting insect-eating birds galore.
The area is a bonanza for those of us in the north, whose gardens have been quiet for a good month.
Read my latest post, “South Texas Butterfly Gardens in Late Fall,” on Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens to learn more about:
- My recent trip
- The “Landscaping for Butterflies” tour of private gardens I led as part of the Texas Butterfly Festival
- All the resources available to Lower Rio Grande Valley residents guiding them to plant NATIVE
- And to see photos of some pretty jazzy butterflies