Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from a Mexican sunflower. Photo credit: Lauren Shea

Oh my butterflies

The Humboldt Botanical Garden aims to create a more abundant butterfly community.

By | Lauren Shea

Butterflies galore! Experience walking around butterflies at the Butterfly House. The Humboldt Botanical Garden opened its very first Butterfly House on July 1st. The project was designed to help educate people with an interest in butterflies, gardeners and families with children. People from all ages have visited the Butterfly house to see the life cycle of the butterflies native to the area.

The life span of a butterfly takes place in four stages: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly. There are four kinds of butterflies in the Butterfly House including painted ladies, western swallowtails, red admirals and monarchs.

A display of different types of butterflies. Photo credit: Lauren Shea

Ibby Gerner, Volunteer Coordinator for The Humboldt Botanical Garden, talked about the response to their first Butterfly House.

“There has been almost 2,500 people visiting the Butterfly House since it opened it July,” Gerner said. “We’ve had a great response to the garden. Both adults and children have come to see the Butterfly House.”

Terry Kramer, the Site Manager at the Humboldt Botanical Garden, talked about her experience with the Butterfly House and the visitors.

“People are really excited and want to learn more about the Butterflies,” Kramer said. “One of the most unique qualities from this Butterfly House compared to others is that people can walk around with the Butterflies and see them up close.”

The Butterfly House consists mostly of Mexican sunflowers to provide nectar for the butterflies and milkweed for breeding. Many people in the area have removed milkweed from their yards. In most recent years, the population of monarch butterflies have been decreasing due to lack of habitat, loss of milkweed and pesticides.

The Butterfly House is located in the greenhouse at the Humboldt Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Lauren Shea

“The amount of monarch butterflies is down by 80 percent,” Kramer said.

Mary Gearheart, Garden Designer for The Humboldt Botanical Garden, created the design for the Butterfly House including picking the right plants for the butterflies and also volunteers at the Butterfly House.

“It’s amazing how many people come from out of the area,” Gearheart said. “Just the other day, there were people visiting from upstate New York and visitors from Australia.”

Red admiral butterflies attracted to the white information pages inside the Butterfly House. Photo credit: Lauren Shea

There are plans to set up a garden outside where the Butterflies will be set free at the end of the month. The Humboldt Botanical Garden is hoping to start a butterfly garden outside year-round to help increase the population of butterflies and give them a safe habitat to live in.

“We would like to create a garden of milkweed, Mexican sunflowers and other butterfly friendly plants right next to the sunflower garden,” Gearheart said.

The Humboldt Botanical Garden is applying for a grant that would allow for an intern to work in the Butterfly House for next year. They’re also hoping to set up more school trips to the garden to educate children.

There is a $3 suggested donation fee to help support the Butterfly House. It’s open from Wednesday to Sunday 12p.m. to 4p.m. and will be open till the end of September. There are many volunteer opportunities at the Butterfly House and the Humboldt Botanical Garden. For more information, you can call the Humboldt Botanical Office at (707) 442- 5139 or email the office at


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