Project Native, Plant and Butterfly Haven

Update on Project Native: New Owner, New Directions

View the photos from my 7/1/14 visit to this native plant nursery and butterfly sanctuary in Housatonic, MA: 

These butterflies are not as specialized as the Monarch butterfly, which depends exclusively on members of the milkweed family. Black Swallowtails have even adapted to nonnative parsley, dill, carrot and Queen Anne's Lace. 

The Black Swallowtail caterpillar depends on native Angelicas, Angelica atropurpurea, A. lucida and A. venenosa, for its life cycle. No Angelica? There are other native plants they use, such as Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea). 

Butterflies start so small. Can you see the eggs on the left? Simply brushing the leaves could dislodge them. But we humans don't like the leaves of nettles because they prickle and catch our clothing, so nettles are often pulled as weeds. It's one of those homely native plants, but this butterfly can't live without nettles.

On the left, meet the newly emerged Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar, a critter that depends on spicebush and sassafras for its life cycle.

This little caterpillar started Project Native's butterfly journey. According to general manager David Ellis, they noticed this butterfly on spicebush and sassafras in the field and decided to give it some protection so it wouldn't be eaten by birds. 

Now, they actively scout for Spicebush Swallowtail and protect it in the butterfly house. 

Here, various crysallis "hang out" in the protective butterfly house until they emerge as full grown butterflies and continue the life cycle. 
Here, a Painted Lady goes "nectaring" on a ripe peach.