All-A-Flutter Farms: See & Experience A Real Butterfly Farm Up Close!
Feed monarch butterflies in the flight house.
Image courtesy of All-A-Flutter Farms LLC
Who doesn’t love a butterfly? The delicate little insect, with its brightly-colored and individually patterned wings, delights all who behold it. Its aerial maneuvers thrill onlookers and its life cycle astounds the human mind. The transformation of a small, chubby caterpillar — a bug that spends its entire life on the ground — into a fragile conqueror of the air, is a mind-boggling feat. Most people are aware of this metamorphosis, but many have never seen the process in its various stages. At All-A-Flutter Farms, that opportunity — and more — awaits visitors.
Owned by Brandon and Nora Aker, All-A-Flutter Farms is located on twenty-seven, beautifully landscaped acres in High Point. The farm produces and sells butterflies for release at special events; grows and sells plants that benefit pollinators; and educates the public about North American butterflies — particularly the monarch. “The farm’s goal,” says Nora “is to emphasize education, conservation and habitat restoration of all pollinators.”
All-A-Flutter Farms provides tours from April through October. They are only open to the public on “Family Days,” which are scheduled on Saturdays at 10 a.m. beginning April 16. Group tours are welcome, but must be scheduled in advance. Visitors who attend Family Days should arrive about twenty minutes early to ensure they get a ticket; only 150 are sold. After paying the admission fee, guests are directed to an outdoor seating area. There, Nora uses creative props and members of the audience to demonstrate the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. It is a memorable experience. In addition, she also discusses the monarch’s food sources, migration pattern and anatomy. “There is a rapid decline of pollinators in the United States, which includes the monarch butterfly,” says Nora. “The monarch butterfly is especially in need of assistance, as it was nearly listed on the endangered species list in 2015. We want to teach our visitors how they can make a difference.”
Without a doubt, the farm is doing just that. After her presentation, Nora leads guests to the “flight house,” which is the main attraction. Inside, visitors will see and interact with hundreds of free-flying monarchs. Guests are given a sugar pad to feed the butterflies — and are absolutely thrilled when one lands on it and then rolls out its proboscis (much like a garden hose) to drink the water. Be sure to bring a camera, as this activity provides a perfect opportunity for photographs.
The flight house is a magical place. Not only does it hold hundreds of butterflies, but it is also the location where the entire life cycle of a monarch can be viewed. Guests will see newly laid eggs on milkweed plants and watch caterpillars in various stages of growth heartily devouring those plants. A caterpillar that has formed its chrysalis is a special sight to see. Its enclosure is lime green and appears to have been sealed with golden beads. Some visitors may actually see a monarch emerge. Guests are given approximately thirty minutes to enjoy the flight house, which is ample time to view the eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises and butterflies.
In addition to the presentation and flight house, visitors will also enjoy a few new play structures.
“Our play structures,” says Nora, “are built with farm materials and encourage children to use their imagination.”
All-A-Flutter Farms also has an onsite gift shop that is open on Family Days. “The gift shop,” says Nora, “features a multitude of fun farm accessories like hats, t-shirts and butterfly feeders. But, our most popular item is the Caterpillar Castle Lifecycle Kit.”
The Caterpillar Castle Lifecycle Kit, which is a milkweed plant wrapped in netting, allows families to observe a miracle of nature within their own home. The milkweed plant contains two monarch eggs and, if you look hard enough, you may be able to spot them; a monarch egg looks like a tiny white dot on the underside of a leaf. After several days, the eggs will hatch and two itty-bitty caterpillars will appear. As they eat, the caterpillars will grow larger. Eventually, they will both form a chrysalis. About a week later, two monarch butterflies will emerge and can be released outside. The Caterpillar Castle Lifecycle Kit is truly the most fascinating item you will ever purchase.
In addition to Family Days, All-A-Flutter Farms offers a spectacular event in October. “In an effort to educate the public about monarch migration,” says Nora, “we dedicate an entire show to the magical event. Our Annual Migration Release day is scheduled for October 15, 2016, at 1 p.m. The migration show allows visitors to learn, interact with, and then release monarchs for their flight to Mexico. We offer pre-tagged monarch butterflies for sale during the show, which allows a family to track their butterfly’s progress.”
The Annual Migration Release is a popular program and tickets sell out quickly. If you are interested in attending, make plans to arrive early. Keep in mind, however, visitors are not allowed on the farm until noon.
All-A-Flutter Farms is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of preserving natural habitats and respecting nature. Through their educational programs, the sale of butterflies for release, and the sale of plants that benefit pollinators, All-A-Flutter Farms is doing their part to ensure the monarch will never become an endangered species.
All-A-Flutter Farms LLC is located at 7850-B Clinard Farms Road in High Point. For information regarding activities and fees, please visit all-a-flutter.com or call 336-454-5651.
Jennifer Bean Bower is an award-winning writer and Tar Heel native. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband Larry and their pet rabbit Isabelle. To learn more about Bower and her writing projects, please visit her website at JenniferBeanBower.com. Connect with her on Twitter @JenniferBBower.