We celebrate all things butterfly this September at the Arboretum! It’s a great time to see these beautiful pollinators, particularly as the magic of the monarch butterfly migration begins. Learn more about these important insects through a variety of classes offered by Adult Education Programs. Butterfly-related activities will take place throughout the month, including a butterfly discovery station at Willow Pond, Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. We also invite you to take and share photos of the butterflies you encounter as part of our 2021 Fall Butterfly BioBlitz via iNaturalist.

Please note: due to current guidance we will not have Monarch Butterfly Day this year. However, be sure to join in the fun with all these great educational opportunities!

2021 NC Arboretum Butterfly BioBlitz

Arboretum Property-wide, entire month of September

Audience: Ages 13 to adult. Free, normal parking fees apply.

We need your help documenting the species of butterflies that call the Arboretum home! Join us on this inaugural annual inventory of the butterflies found at The North Carolina Arboretum. This project will collect any observations of members of the Lepidoptera order (butterflies and moths) at The North Carolina Arboretum during September, 2021. We invite you to share your observations and see what others are finding! 

To participate, create a free account at iNaturalist.org or using the iNaturalist app. Simply take photo observations of butterflies in September at the Arboretum and upload these to iNaturalist. Keep an eye out on our leaderboard on the project’s website- if you are the top observer of species or overall observations you’ll win a terrific butterfly prize pack! Follow this link to view: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/2021-nc-arboretum-butterfly-bioblitz

Winners will be announced on October 1.


Onsite Opportunities

Butterfly Discovery Station

Willow Pond, Saturdays in September from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Audience: General. Free, normal parking fees apply

Join an Arboretum educator to learn about monarch butterflies and other beautiful species that call our meadows and forests home. View a butterfly collection, make a monarch caterpillar craft to take home and try your hand at identifying butterflies that visit this beautiful native habitat. This drop-in education station offers something for all ages! Butterflies may not be active on rainy days, but this discovery station will be open “rain or shine”.

Intro to the Butterfly BioBlitz

ONSITE Tuesday, September 7, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. (Pre-registration required)

Audience: Ages 13+. Non-member $25**

Join Jonathan Marchal, the Arboretum’s director of education, for a field exploration of some of the best spots to find butterflies at the Arboretum. Learn how to safely collect a butterfly with a net, how to identify some common species and tips and tricks to upload photos of butterflies to iNaturalist and participate in September’s Butterfly BioBlitz at the Arboretum. Participants should create an iNaturalist account prior to the class. Please note that while many similar classes are adult only audiences, youth ages 13+ are also welcome to participate in this class.

Walk on the Wild Side: Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit Highlights

ONSITE Tuesday , September 22; 10 – 11:30 a.m. (Pre-registration required)

Audience: Ages 18+. Adult Non-member $17**

Take this special small-group guided stroll through the Arboretum’s outdoor sculpture exhibition, Wild Art, before it closes on September 26th. The Arboretum’s Senior Director for Mission Delivery, Clara Curtis, and Landscape Architect Lynn Raker will highlight sculptures created by selected local and national artists who were inspired by nature to create using a variety of approaches to the theme of “wild art” and a diverse array of materials. Pick up some inspiration for incorporating art into your garden!


Online Opportunities 

Intro to Butterfly Ecology 

ONLINE Wednesday, September 15, 1 – 2:30 p.m.

Audience: Ages 18+. Adult Non-member $25**

A butterfly alights on an ironweed and unfolds its magnificent wings, revealing iridescent bands of ethereal blue. The shimmering colors augment and decrease as the insect slowly raises and lowers its wings. But this vibrant display is not meant for our eyes; it is a warning to predatory birds. Naturalist Dan Lazar leads an exploration of  the many interrelationships between butterflies, plants and birds in this lavishly-illustrated lecture. The secret of life is written on the wings of a butterfly.

Creating a Native Plant Pollinator Garden

ONLINE Friday, September 24; 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Audience: Ages 18+. Adult Non-member $25**

Native plants are beautiful, low maintenance, ecologically beneficial, and bestow a distinct sense of place to cultivated landscapes. This class will guide students in planning a native garden to serve a diverse range of pollinators. Sarah Coury covers native plant sourcing, propagation, and options for various site conditions in this informative overview.


Offsite, In-Person Opportunities 

Be a Pollinator Protector: Establishing & Planting a Certified Pollinator Habitat

FIELD Thursday, September 30; 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. 

Audience: Ages 18+. Adult Non-member $25.**  Limited to 20 participants

What’s one step you can take to protect pollinators? Consider planting a pollinator garden at home or in your community! Blue Ridge Naturalist and Bee City USA Co-Chair Betsy Savely leads this informational tour and talk, held at a certified pollinator habitat. She offers tangible steps for creating a beautiful garden of any size and you’ll learn how to seek certification as a Pollinator Habitat from Asheville GreenWork’s Bee City USA Chapter. The idea for this habitat grew from two projects undertaken for the Blue Ridge Naturalist Certificate of Merit program offered through the Arboretum, which blossomed into a dynamic community-based project located in a busy city park area!


(**Arboretum Members receive a 10% discount on all classes. Become an Arboretum Member!)