Zoo Butterfly Garden
Flowers In Flight
Each year, cooler temperatures send monarchs south to the same trees within Mexico’s high forests, usually in September. How do these migratory butterflies find a place they have never been? Flutter by the Zoo’s Butterfly Garden to catch the excitement, learn more and tag butterflies as they stop at the Zoo on their way south. Guests of all ages are welcome at the Zoo's annual Monarch Tagging. Crafts are available at Grandma’s Porch. FREE with paid Zoo admission.
Nature Blossoms and Flutters
Located just southwest of the Noble Aquatic Center: Aquaticus and bordered by Zoo Lake on the east, the Butterfly Garden is a 20,000 square-foot exhibit designed especially for some of nature's most delicate creatures--butterflies. As the largest, walk-through outdoor Butterfly Garden in Oklahoma, the garden is a color and texture extravaganza of more than 15,000 plants fashioned to sustain the complete life cycle of the butterfly. Full color, educational graphics are placed throughout the exhibit highlighting the intricacies of butterflies and their importance in the surrounding ecosystems.
Because butterflies are attracted to nectar producing flowers, penta, lantana, verbena and coneflower are the primary flowers. However, to entice the butterflies to remain in the area, nearly a quarter of the plants are host plants on which their caterpillar or larva will feed. Other plants include several types of shrubs and trees to give the butterflies wind breaks and a safe roosting place in the winter.
Highlighted in the Butterfly Garden is a tall grass prairie section on a hillside in the south corner of the exhibit. These plants, which account for a third of the plantings, replicate native plants found at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in Northeastern Oklahoma. Indian Blanket, Big Blue Stem, Pitcher Sage and many other plants may be seen in this area.
One of the better known inhabitants of the garden is the Monarch butterfly. These winged creatures are unique due to the fact that they are the only butterflies that migrate north and south as birds do. In the springtime, they fly north to Canada and in the fall Monarchs return to the mountain forests of southern California and Mexico. In addition, visitors may see other butterflies native to the region such as the Painted Lady, Giant Swallowtail and the Eastern Black Swallowtail - the Oklahoma state butterfly.
This YouTube video provides an excellent depiction of Monarch migration. It's exciting to know that the OKC Zoo is one stop on the Monarch journey!