Thursday, January 28, 2010

Briefly, To the Tropics

What was to become known as “Tucson Botanical Gardens” was founded in 1964 by horticulturist and collector, Harrison G. Yocum, whose home gardens contained an extensive collection of cacti and palms.

In the early 70s, Mrs. Bernice Porter was looking for a way to preserve her house and gardens, and by joining with the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the preservation of the Porter property became a reality.

The first stop on our visit to the Gardens was the Tropical Greenhouse, home of several tropical butterflies. We passed through two doors before entering the Greenhouse and learned just how "tropical" it was. It took about 3-4 minutes for the fog to clear from our glasses, but it was a full 15 minutes before fog no longer formed on our cameras' lenses.

(I believe this is the Danaid Eggfly Butterfly.)

(I believe this is the Zebra Longwing Butterfly.)

For the next half hour we walked around the tropical (92 degrees and humid) exhibit, photographing butterflies.

As we wiped away the drops of perspiration, we understood one of the Garden's Core Values: "We believe that learning is a lifelong process that should be enjoyable and stimulating."

We particularly were drawn to this butterfly with the transparent wings. (I believe this is the Glasswing Butterfly.)

(I believe this is a Paper Kite Butterfly.)

"All of the butterflies in the Gardens’ exhibit are hatched from eggs and live as caterpillars in butterfly farms in tropical parts of the world. When the caterpillars change into the pupae, they are carefully counted, labeled, and packed.

In the pupae stage of the butterfly life cycle, no food is required so they can survive the two or three day trip to Tucson. Once they arrive at the Gardens they are housed in a climate controlled environment which allows them to emerge naturally from their pupae. They are then transferred to the Greenhouse" (Butterfly Greenhouse information).

One of the Greenhouse staff described the process of leaving the tropical setting as thorough as passing through airport security. Because of the risk of some of the butterflies spreading disease if they escape the Greenhouse, we were scanned and checked before leaving the tropics to insure that we had no butterflies attached to our clothing.

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