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Pavilion flutters with excitement

Julie Scheuermann, a Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden volunteer, shows off a monarch caterpillar at the Butterfly Pavilion. The annual attraction has faced several challenges this year due to the extreme heat and the intrusion of a garden lizard into the habitat, which ate several of the butterflies earlier this week. The event runs until August 3, when the butterflies will be released all at once. / photo by Katie Madden

Tyler Harrison
Staff Writer

Visitors to the Butterfly Pavilion at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens in Claremont searched high and low for the beautiful winged insects in a special enclosure.

The Butterfly Pavilion is a temporary 24 foot by 36 foot habitat that allows visitors to observe native Californian species more closely than they would in the wild.

“People like butterflies,” said “Butterfly” Bill Gendron, the coordinator for the Butterfly Pavilion.

“People don’t know a lot about them, but here they can learn. It’s difficult to get close, but here the butterflies have no choice; it’s a great learning experience.”

The exhibit focuses on teaching the development process of the butterfly.

Many caterpillars and chrysalises were on display for guests to view before entering the pavilion.

Two-year-old Sydney Woo visited the Butterfly Pavilion with her mother, Kim Woo.

“I liked touching caterpillars,” Sydney Woo said.

Sydney and her mother spent most of their time with the caterpillars, at Sydney’s request to go back to the bugs.

Featured in the pavilion were the Monarch, Swallow Tail, Checker Spot, Cabbage White and Skipper butterflies.

Typically about 10 species of butterflies are fluttering through the exhibit.

However, due to the start of the season and a lizard sneaking into the enclosure and eating some of the population, there are fewer butterflies.

Valerie Ross, an Upland resident, attended the butterfly pavilion with her daughter and grandchildren as a Mother’s Day gift.

Ross reported that she had seen about five butterflies on her walk through the enclosure.

“Its great,” said Ross. “I just need to see more butterflies.”

Gendron said the pavilion catches, grows and orders butterflies from breeders, and that the insects will make it to the Butterfly Pavilion soon.

Despite seeing more butterflies flying among the botanic garden during the fifteen-minute walk to the Butterfly Pavilion than in the actual enclosure, children were still fascinated by “Butterfly” Bill and his knowledge of the insects, which he shared with guests.

Ross’ 6-year-old grandson, Israel Macias, said he learned something new at the enclosure.

“Monarchs can fly 50 miles per day when migrating to Mexico,” said Macias.

The cost of attendance is $2 per person on top of the garden’s admission fee.

The exhibit opened May 10 and runs through August 3 from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m., daily.

The butterflies will be set free at 1 pm on August 3 during the Butterfly Release Party.

Tyler Harrison can be reached at tyler.harrison@laverne.edu.

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