Legendary environmentalist John Muir observed that anytime you examine a living thing in isolation you find it is attached to the rest of the universe. This has been demonstrated time and again as the demise of a single species has triggered a chain reaction of damaging consequences for other living things. It is this principle that informs the important work being done at the Butterfly Farms in Encinitas.
The experts at Butterfly Farms identify the plight of the Monarch Butterfly as symptomatic of the damage we are doing to our ecosystem as a result of mindless unfettered growth. They established the farms as a California nonprofit organization in 2013 out of concern over the general decline of pollinators. They point out that the shrinking habitat of the Monarch Butterfly is also home to numerous other species whose decline has consequences down the road for all of us.
There are numerous threats to the Monarch Butterfly that go beyond paving and building in its habitat. Its eggs can be devoured by ants, mice and wasps among others. No more than 10% make it from egg to butterfly. Of those that survive to adulthood, many fall victims to cars as they fly in proximity to highways and roads. It is therefore important that they have advocates like the experts at Butterfly Farms.
The centerpiece of the property is a 2,000 square foot “vivarium,” an enclosed structure which resembles a greenhouse. It is home to numerous butterfly species including Monarchs, Cloudless Sulfurs, Cabage Whites, Painted Ladies, Gulf Fritilaries, Anise Swallowtails and many others. They also grow and study dozens of plants that are important to the ecosystems of butterflies. Beyond the immediate grounds of Butterfly Farms, the staff engages in field work monitoring, tagging and tracking Monarchs.
For a small charge that helps support the mission of the farms, the organization offers guided workshops that provide an overview of the farms, as well as critical information on the plight of the pollinators. The workshop was developed in concert with local educators and complies with Next Generation Science Standards.