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By Ariele Johannson

Butterfly Pavilion is still open for viewing

April 24, 2014 (Rancho San Diego)--The Butterfly Festival at the Water Conservation Garden marked the opening of their new Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion on Saturday, April 5th, 2014. The celebration involved participants traveling through the pleasant maze of The Garden with a Pollinator Parade led by Miss Metamorphosis. The event also featured a butterfly-habitat plant sale, face painting, animal encounter, Miss Smarty Plants, a butterfly laboratory, kids’ arts, and crafts, live music; and of course, the new Butterfly Pavilion.

Guests were given times to visit the pavilion every 15 minutes, so that each group was limited and could roam freely among the plants and butterflies. The pavilion itself is adorned on the outside with striking colored glass. Inside there is a whole separate garden with flower beds, potted plants, ornaments, and live butterflies, all protected in a lovely glass enclosure.

The Butterfly Pavilion is named after the late Dorcas Utter ((1924-2007). According to the Water Conservation’s website, Dorcas “was one of The Garden's most beloved docents. She was an avid nature-lover who gave tours of The Garden with her seeing-eye dog, Sharla, by her side. She created and managed The Garden's first volunteer training program, and most weekends she and Sharla could be found welcoming visitors at The Garden's front entrance.”

The mission of the Butterfly Pavilion is to provide butterfly and habitat encounters that allow visitors to learn about the importance of butterflies in the ecosystem, their lifecycle, and how humans can help sustain their populations using water-saving plants.

It seems that everyone loves butterflies for their colorful, fragile, and ethereal nature. In some traditions, the butterfly is the symbol of the soul due to its metamorphosis from the body of the caterpillar to the chrysalis to the beauteous and delicate butterfly. In practical terms, butterflies are second only to bees as important pollinator of our plants. In this way, they contribute in an essential way to humans and wildlife, helping to sustain us.

Butterflies also serve as indicators of a healthy environment. They thrive here in San Diego on many of the water-conserving plants that are featured at the Water Conservation Garden. Unfortunately, the monarch butterflies are one of the butterfly populations that have been affected by the encroachment of developing towns and cities. The main food of the monarch is the milkweed plant.

The folks at the Water Conservation Garden hope that the new Butterfly Pavilion will educate people about how butterfly populations are declining, as well as how to create butterfly gardens and habitats that can actually contribute to bringing back healthy butterfly populations.

There are six butterfly species included in the Butterfly Pavilion for visitors to enjoy. These butterflies include the Gulf Fritillary, the Monarch, the California Dogface, the Red Admiral, the Anise Swallowtail, and the Mourning Cloak.

The Water Conservation Garden or The Garden is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Admission is by suggested donation.

The Water Conservation Garden, 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West, El Cajon, California 92019   Tel: (619) 660-0614    info@TheGarden.org

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