Flight of Fancy
Butterflies hear with their knees, taste with their feet, breathe through their stomachs and smell with their antennae. All those facts and more are driven home in a series of entertaining, interactive skits at the All-a-Flutter Butterfly Farm in High Point. Visitors to the farm will be in awe of the magic and wonder of butterflies. Amateur entomologists (people who study insects) are actively enthralled, butterfly enthusiasts are enchanted and everybody else pays rapt attention as a series of fast-paced, interactive skits amuse and inform children of all ages about butterfly life histories, butterfly biology, monarch migration, and the differences between butterflies and moths.
On the day I visited, our tour began with a 20-minute presentation on the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. Several audience members were needed to hold visual aids ranging from simple posters to giant butterfly eggs. As one audience member was asked to don “butterfly parts,” it quickly became obvious how wonderfully adapted butterflies are for their own life.
A group of kids was needed to play the parts of a butterfly and several moths showing the differences between the two related bugs. And the adults were not left out in the quick-timed banter of corny butterfly jokes.
After the Monarch butterfly presentation, we visited the flight house. In this big, net-like tent, there are lots of butterflies along with their host plant, milkweed. One of the butterfly wranglers will point out all the stages of a butterfly life cycle — from freshly laid eggs to instars of all sizes and chrysalises and adults. Do not be surprised if butterflies land on brightly-colored clothing to investigate it as possible food source. Pads soaked with a special sugar solution are available, and many butterflies will sit on the pad and feed, providing visitors with an up-close look at their tube-like proboscises in action. Sometimes frogs and turtles can also be spotted in the flight house.
Donna Pless started All-a-Flutter Butterfly Farm about eight years ago to raise monarch butterflies for release at weddings, parties and other events. As the demand grew and the farm increased in size, her husband Tim joined her as a butterfly wrangler. They now raise thousands of the attractive orange and black butterflies every year and ship them across the eastern United States for release. The farm also stresses the importance of saving natural habitats and respecting the natural world to its clients and visitors.
Cennet Erdogan of Winston-Salem and mother of four daughters, says that her kids’ favorite part of was the flight house. “They enjoyed catching the butterflies the most, and they had a couple land on them,” says Erdogan.
Bug barns complete with a caterpillar and enough milkweed to raise the caterpillar are also available for purchase. Erdogan also suggests buying one of these kits. “That was an exciting thing for both us and the children. You have the opportunity to watch a caterpillar actually become a butterfly,” she says.
Butterfly farming is a seasonal activity, so the farm is only open to visitors from mid-April to early October. The farm is open to the general public with a tour from 10-11 a.m. each Saturday until Oct. 4. The cost is $4 per child and $5 for adults. If you bring your lunch, tables are available under the oak trees for a family picnic after the farm visit. Special tours can be arranged for groups of 20 or more, and the farm can be booked for birthday parties and other special events.
IF YOU GO
All-a-Flutter Butterfly Farm
7850 Clinard Farms Road
High Point, NC 27265
Admission:Farm visits are $4 for children and $5 per adult. Reservations are required for group and individual visits.
Robert Smith is a freelance photographer based in Greensboro.